plan to save babies from hiv

MORE babies could be born free from HIV in South Africa.

This follows the recent introduction of the National Plan for Acceleration of the Prevention of Mother to Child HIV Transmission programme.

About one million babies are born to South African mothers annually.

According to experts, at least three hundred thousand of these babies are at risk of contracting HIV from their already infected mothers.

The PMTCT A-Plan aims to protect 75000 of these babies from HIV infection.

Explaining the need for a revised PMTCT A-Plan programme, project manager for the PMTCT A-Plan, Dr Gugu Ngubane, said: "The quality of the PMTCT programme is the problem and that's why people are not receiving services that they need. We are busy improving the system".

The Department of Health's deputy director for the programme, Precious Robinson, said the current programme faces many challenges.

"One gap was the (low) uptake of the dual prophylaxis - your AZT at 28 weeks and your Nevirapine. Women are testing for HIV, (but) our figures show that very few of these women do get this prophylaxis, either because they would have booked and left or they totally are not being given the prophylaxis as expected," she said.

Robinson added that the PMTCT A-Plan also hopes to improve on ways to keep track of mothers and their infants after their enrolment into the PMTCT programme.

"For example, these women would have tested and come to us for prophylaxis.

"Also, they would have come to deliver their babies at our facilities.

"Six weeks down the line when we expect them to bring their babies for (HIV) testing, we don't actually see them bringing the babies back," she said.

"As a result, we realise that we cannot measure the impact of the (PMTCT) programme properly," she said. - Health-e News