Ignorance hinders prevention of HIV infection in children

BUGESERA -A local leader in Mazane Cell, an island in Rweru Sector, Bugesera District, on Thursday appealed to authorities to increase education programmes on the island, warning that ignorance and illiteracy could impede efforts against mother to child transmission of HIV.

BUGESERA -A local leader in Mazane Cell, an island in Rweru Sector, Bugesera District, on Thursday appealed to authorities to increase education programmes on the island, warning that ignorance and illiteracy could impede efforts against mother to child transmission of HIV.

Athanase Rukebesha, the Executive Secretary of Mazane, was speaking at a training workshop on Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV - organised by Mayange Millennium Development Project in conjunction with UNAIDS in Nyamata town.

Over 80 local leaders from 15 sectors of Bugesera attended the training. “Most people on the island originated from Burundi and elsewhere. They are always on the move and the most educated is now in senior two. You can imagine the PMTCT challenge,” he said.

During the two-day training that ended on Thursday, participants were urged to sensitise expectant mothers to embrace antennal care and give birth in health centres so as to reduce the risk of child infection.

According to Felicien Rwagasore, Mayange Health Coordinator, the training targeted community leaders from all sectors of the district.

“The training provided space for interaction and experience sharing. This enables us to define better ways of dealing with the issue of PMTCT at community level,” he said.

One of the trainers, Dr. Safari Sekabuhoro of Nyamata Hospital, told The New Times that limiting MTCT in rural areas remains a challenge because some HIV-positive mothers continue to breast feed after birth due to lack of alternative feeding mechanisms.

“Feeding a baby with ordinary milk is very expensive. A tin of baby formula for use in a short period costs over Rwf 8,000. This being the case, poor HIV-positive mothers inevitably continue breast feeding for 18 months while on ARVs, which is a bit risky,” he said.

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