The increase of Mother to Child HIV transmission in Murang’a County has been attributed to 2017’s nurses’ strike which lasted for five months.
Murang’a County Executive Member for Health and Sanitation Mr. Joseph Mbai said during the strike, many expectant mothers were not tested for HIV, leading to children being born with the virus.
Speaking during a free medical camp organized by the county government in partnership with Mathioya CDF on Saturday in Nyakianga Sub County, Mbai said leaders of Nurses Union had instructed their members to halt testing expectant mothers of the virus leading to increase of infants infected with HIV.
In 2017, Mbai noted that 1, 232 infants in the county were born with HIV, saying the number was quite high compared to other years.
“In past years, the county has been recording decreased cases where children are born with the virus but due to the nurses’ strike, some children born by end of 2017 and early 2018 tested positive to HIV,” stated the Executive.
During the strike that started in June 2017, Mbai said it forced many mothers to give birth at their homes as they could not afford maternity services in private clinics.
“As nurses supported the strike, the impact was grievous as children were born infected with the deadly disease. Health practitioners should give protection of life priority,” he added.
The executive divulged that the county government has established Early Infant Diagnosis Point of Care in all major health facilities to ensure children who contract the disease are diagnosed soonest possible.
“We are soon going to launch a campaign to sensitive expecting mothers to be attending prenatal clinics and take advantage of free maternity services and deliver in hospitals,” noted Mbai.
He said mothers who visited clinics as required help in prevention of HIV transmission to unborn children if the expectant mothers were infected.
Mbai further expressed his concerns that a number of infected infants were yet to be diagnosed over failure by their mothers to take them for postnatal clinics.
Meanwhile, the county executive disclosed that 27, 688 Murang’a residents were living with the virus out of which 13, 296 were unidentified but not under medication.
He underscored the need to sensitize young people who were sexually active and sex workers on the need for frequent HIV testing in an effort to control the spread of the disease.
On his part, Mathioya MP Peter Kimari said poor sensitization about HIV/AIDS could be blamed for increase of infected infants.
Kimari noted that mothers should be properly educated about health matters especially when they are expectant.
He promised to push the government to allocate more funds in the health sector saying grassroots health facilities needed to be equipped to ensure that mothers accessed medical attention.
By Bernard Munyao