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Breakthrough in the prevention of HIV transmission

Efforts to reduce the number of mothers from infecting their children with HIV has borne fruit after 110 children born of HIV positive parents successfully completed the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission program after going through 2 years of individual therapy from which they were declared as HIV negative.

Speaking in Kakuma, Health and Sanitation Chief Officer Capt (Rtd) Augustine Lokwang said the successful graduates represented 89.4 per cent of the 123 enrolled into the program as of 2018.

“This is the eighth HIV Exposed Infants (HEI) graduation in the County since the last one was held in Lodwar where they obtained a 90 per cent success rate after graduating 27 negatives from a starting total of 30 children,” Lokwang said.

He added that the county-led initiative is a beacon of hope for HIV positive couples with the desire to go through childbirth despite their status and partners had played the significant role of strengthening the infrastructure for service provision and created demand for the service.

Chief Lokwang said Turkana North had been awarded as the best overall in the republic on ensuring HIV testing services is promptly provided.

Fr. Paul Areman the Vicar General of the Catholic Diocese of Lodwar said that the caritas Lodwar wing had played a significant role in midwifing negotiations that led to the funding support for undertaking such interventions.

Father Areman added that the Diocese was operating on a fully functional health services delivery structure.

Alice Akalapatan, Ag Director Preventive and Promotive health decried the non-involvement of men in the process saying that the desired 100 per cent success rate could have been easily achieved with participation of the children’s fathers.

Joshua Napoco the area Sub County Administrator urged the parents of the graduands to ensure that the children are enrolled in schools as soon as they attain age of school admission so as to secure their future and create a better tomorrow.

Administrator Napoco promised to avail resources for tracking treatment defaulters and those lost to follow up through the lower levels of village administrators recently created by the County.

On his part, Turkana West’s MoH Robert Rotich confirmed that a multidisciplinary team will be formed to review and audit the report of the 10.6 per cent who were zero converted in the process against the target of less than 2 per cent recommended threshold.

The event comes at a time when Turkana has been listed by the Ministry of Health as would-be beneficiaries of the recently introduced sweetened and flavoured Child friendly anti-retroviral to be administered as first line medication.

By Peter Gitonga

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