Preventing Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission Remains Challenge in Zambia, Health Minister Says
Zambia's health minister, Kapembwa Simbao, recently said that the provision of services to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission remains a challenge in the country, despite the government's efforts to expand such services in recent years, the Lusaka Times reports. Simbao's remarks, read by Deputy Health Minister Mwendoi Akakandelwa, came as the ministry completed an initial mid-term review of efforts under a regional grant provided by the Canadian International Development Agency and the World Health Organization.
According to Simbao, 51% of HIV-positive pregnant women were accessing comprehensive MTCT prevention services at the end of 2008, while 29% of infants exposed to HIV through MTCT were receiving prophylactic treatment. He said that improvements need to be made in the quality of care and services currently available to HIV-positive women and children, adding that the government has launched a program that aims to provide services to at least 80% of HIV-positive pregnant women and children by 2010. The CIDA funding has been allocated to efforts aimed at improving MTCT and pediatric services in 10 high-burden districts in the country, Simbao said. He estimated that within two years of the CIDA grant implementation, more than 8,000 HIV cases among children, with an estimated cost of $320 per case, will be prevented (Lusaka Times, 4/21).