The Government’s free maternity healthcare services have reduced mother-to-child HIV transmission in Nakuru County and enabled teenage mothers to attend the clinics.
The County Director for Public Health, Mrs Elizabeth Kiptoo, said since the government abolished user fees for maternity care, under the Free Maternity Service Policy in June 2013 in all public health facilities, cases of mother-to-child HIV transmission have plummeted.
She said the most effective prevention of mother to child transmission requires mothers and their babies to get accessible, available, nearby and reachable antenatal services and HIV testing during pregnancy.
The Director stated that the mothers who test positive are supplied with antiretroviral treatment. The mid-wives practice safe childbirth practices, and they are taught appropriate infant feeding practices for the safety of the infant.
Mrs Kiptoo added that a pregnant woman living with HIV, could easily pass on the virus to her baby during childbirth and through breastfeeding, if they fail to attend the antenatal clinics and get support from the medical personnel.
She appealed to all expectant mothers, their families and communities to ensure that they consistently adhere to their antenatal and postnatal visits since the government has offered free services.
“If you are an expectant mother living with HIV/AIDS, taking antiretroviral treatment correctly during pregnancy, you can eliminate the risk of passing on the virus to your baby,’’ says Mrs Kiptoo.
She advised expectant mothers who are negative, but their partners engage in behaviours that put them at risk for HIV, to get tested again in their third trimester to be totally sure before delivery.
Speaking today to KNA in Nakuru, Kiptoo said before free maternity care, a large number of expectant mothers sought services of untrained midwives leading to increased mother to child infections.
“Many mothers preferred to deliver at home to avoid hospital expenses. The government’s move to offer free services has however changed this,’’ said the Public Health Director.
She appealed to teenage mothers not to fear visiting the antenatal clinic, saying the staff have been retrained and deterred from using any unprofessional conduct such as breaking confidentiality, being judgmental or use of negative language on them.
By Veronica Bosibori