SINCE HIV/AIDS showed its ugly face in the early 80s, the scourge has changed the face of the earth, especially in Africa where it has taken a grim toll.
During its appearance, many people wrongly thought children were safe from this cruel disease.
However, a few years later, it was discovered that even the babies born from infected couples were not immune.
With this realisation, efforts have been made to protect innocent lives from infection that can occur at several stages.
Thus we hail the National AIDS Council (NAC) for signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Community Based Organisations (CBOs) aimed at scaling up the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS in Zambia.
The MoU has established an official partnership between the Lusaka City Council (LCC) and NAC to strengthen the CBOs operations in tackling issues that have to do with the epidemic.
As Lusaka mayor George Nyendwa observed there is need to focus on the realisation and intervention of how community organisations were working towards the HIV pandemic.
Under the MoU, three CBOs namely Volunteer Welfare Association of Zambia (VOWAZA), Mulangile Organization and Lusapila Women Supported group in Lusaka would be supported with a grant amounting to K103, 000.
This is a healthy development that will ensure operations in these targeted areas are enhanced to offer well-oiled operations to curb mother to child transmissions of HIV.
We also extend our commendation to various stakeholders for the contribution towards the elimination of this scourge. Mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) is by far the largest source of HIV infection in children below the age of 15 years.
The mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV refers to the transmission of HIV from an HIV-positive woman to her child during pregnancy, labour, delivery or breastfeeding.
Without treatment, the likelihood of HIV passing from mother-to-child is 15-45 per cent.
However, antiretroviral treatment (ART) and other effective interventions for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) can reduce this risk to below five per cent.
Effective PMTCT programmes require women and their infants to receive a cascade of interventions including uptake of antenatal services and HIV testing during pregnancy.
Other measures is use of antiretroviral treatment (ART) by pregnant women living with HIV, safe childbirth practices ,appropriate infant feeding, uptake of infant HIV testing and other post-natal healthcare services.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a comprehensive approach to PMTCT programmes to provide an almost zero chances of mother to child infection of HIV/AIDS.
In Zambia, organisations like the National HIV/AIDS Council which is a broad-based corporate body established in 2002 works with government, private sector and civil society in coordinating, monitoring and evaluating inputs, outputs and the impact of HIV/AIDS programmes and interventions.
Supported by a National AIDS Council Secretariat, whose role is to implement Council decisions, including the development of technical guidelines for the coordination of multi-sectoral response, NAC has scored a first it its operations.
So far it is heartening to note that Zambia’s prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programme has been very successful.
The overall percentage of pregnant women attending antenatal clinics and receiving HIV testing is 94 per cent, with 97 per cent of those testing positive receiving antiretroviral treatment (ART).
This impressive scale-up and achievement of universal coverage has enabled the halving of transmissions from mother-to-child between 2009 (24 per cent) and 2012 (12 per cent), and a huge reduction in infant deaths.
This has been enabled by organisations like the Council which have waged a relentless fight against mother-to-child transmission. OPINION