Features

Healthy Babies for All Mothers

Susan Lakot and her husband Patrick Ojok visited the Awach Health Centre IV for antenatal care while she was in the third month of her second pregnancy. While there, they received HIV counseling and testing, and discovered they were both HIV-positive. Based on these results, Susan was quickly enrolled in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) program, and given antiretroviral therapy (ART) prophylaxis. Her husband Patrick was also given ART at this time.

NUMAT PMTCT feature story photo

NUMAT promotes delivery in facilities attended to by skilled health workers through the assistance of trained peer mothers.

Supported by NUMAT, Awach Health Centre treats about 120 mothers like Susan with PMTCT every year. NUMAT’s support mainly includes training, technical assistance and mentorships, the provision of buffer stocks of HIV tests, and distribution of registers for data management.

Susan’s baby boy Angel Luganga Keno arrived safely, and after his birth, he was given a one-week dose of Nevirapine syrup to help prevent the transmission of HIV from his mother. At three months, Angel was tested and found to be HIV-negative, but Susan and Patrick plan to conduct a repeat test at six months as per the guidelines.

Despite this initial result, there are still obstacles to ensuring that Susan’s baby remains negative.

“Though I would prefer to breastfeed Angel for the recommended six months and wean him afterwards,” says Susan, “I don’t have any replacement feeding, so I am likely to continue breastfeeding him for at least two years like I did with my first baby.”

To help with issues like these, Susan and Patrick joined the NUMAT-supported Awach Health Centre Family Support Group, which can help decrease isolation, stress, and fear associated with HIV. Group members also learn strategies for positive living, proper child care, and how to access health services.

“When I joined the Family Support Group,” says Susan, “l learned from other HIV-positive mothers that the greatest challenge for all of us is the issue of replacement feeding which we can’t afford.”

With NUMAT’s support, Susan and Patrick are making their health a top priority; they have enrolled in an ART clinic where they receive free drugs, counseling, and have their CD4 tests performed regularly. “I am trying my best to support Susan to look after our children,” says Patrick. “Even if we die of AIDS, they will be our flowers on earth and ensure our continuity.”

To date NUMAT has supported almost 12,000 HIV-positive pregnant mothers through the provision of facility-based PMTCT programs and Family Support Groups like the ones at the Awach Health Centre.

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