17 May 2017 15:50pm
RUNDU, 17 MAY (NAMPA) The United States (U.S.) Ambassador to Namibia, Thomas Daughton has praised the Nyangana District Hospital for reaching an HIV infant diagnosis milestone of 94.8 per cent through the Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) programme.
Daughton made the remarks recently during a visit to the Nyangana District Hospital in the Kavango East Region.
In a media statement on Wednesday, Daughton explained that the EID programme entails early postnatal HIV testing of children as early as 48 hours after birth from HIV positive mothers.
He explained that the Nyangana District Hospital had introduced a standard operation procedure that tracks, tests, and follows up on 94.8 per cent of babies born of HIV positive mothers.
The programme is supported by the U.S. Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
This is a huge success. All of us here have one goal in common; we want to end the HIV epidemic. And to achieve that new infections among children must be eliminated, he said.
Daughton said when effective medication is taken, the risk of transmission of HIV is prevented and ensures that children are born and remain HIV-negative, even when breastfed by an HIV-positive mother.
Since 2004, thanks to several programmes addressing mother-to-child transmission in Namibia, including the USAID Technical Assistance Programme (UTAP), the HIV infection rate in children born to HIV-positive mothers has dropped by over 90 percent, especially in the Nyangana area.
Daughton, however, cautioned health care workers and policy makers from relaxing their efforts in closing the gap between diagnosis and linkage of treatment as Nyangana mothers still face challenges presented by the disease.
It is no secret that HIV-positive infants are at their highest risk to die within the first three months of their life. Therefore, every effort must be made to ensure that children of HIV-positive mothers are diagnosed quickly in order to immediately put them on treatment, he said.