I like to think that I am a pretty tough one. Afterall, who doesn’t want to quietly believe that he/she can confront tough situations and handle them well. The excuse is,-a typical African man, I am!
But this one in Kolandoto on Monday quite left me feeling silly and after all,- human. I used a daladala to move to Kola ndotooutside Shinyanga town. Not a four wheeled daladala like seen in Dar es Salaam but a bicycle daladala as they are referred to down here.
Just a few minutes on the bicycle daladala,I found myself at a village hospital, by the side of young women, possibly in my generation, lined up to access drugs.
In the process of playing ‘facial games’ with some four year old crawling and making noise on the side, I would later eventually have to confront one fact that came like a sharp sudden slap in my face. These are HIV positive babies whose mothers are accessing ARV drugs for them as they play along in a separate room.Here,the service is called ‘Family friendly HIV Clinics.’
Something inside betrayed my ‘artificial toughness’, I should say. In me , was a subtle cry for future dreams lost, for the babies, I thought.
But at least, I said to myself- with this, these few year old babies are assured of hitting their 5th birthday and beyond, keeping them safe from opportunistic infections that kill tens of thousands others born with HIV and unable to access drugs.
A 2009 National Aids Control Programme report shows 120 children are infected everyday through Mother to Child Transmission ( MTCT) .
At the country level, almost a quarter of the HIV new infections in 2008 which were 217704, some 43,300 were due to mother to child transmission.
And from the 596 people infected with HIV every day, some 118 children are infected by their mothers, which is 20 percent of all infections happening daily.
However, even as there are mothers who get pregnant with positive zero status, the gap for Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) services countrywide is still huge.
Current settings show that 6 out of 10 HIV positive women access PMTCT services through 12.5 percent facilities which offer the service, a situation that puts 20 percent of the people on ARVs, who are children in more life danger.
Therefore, in simple terms, it is evident that 21,500 of 43,300 infants infected will die before their second birthday and 34,450 of 43,300 will die before their fifth birthday.
And economically, the remaining 10,450 babies will need life-long treatment and the cost of maintaining life health expectancy will be high to the family and the government as well. This also results into part of the generation struggling with its health.
The children are innocent because they have no control over whatever their mothers do when still in the womb.
On a continental picture, Tanzania ranks 6th out of 10 high burden countries among the African countries with the highest number of pregnant women who are HIV positive, where, every year, 122,000 pregnant mothers and 48,000 babies are infected with HIV.
In a move to cut children’s infections and improving PMCT, public eyes will be focused to December this year when Tanzania is expected to have adopted provision of PMTCT and pediatric services to be provided under one roof at all major hospitals.
The same month should see the government adopting the World Health Organisation (WHO) new guidelines for PMTCT and infant feeding.
And by the end of next year, the health sector should have adopted a policy of using expert patients in the care and treatment program.
For the health sector, this will mean that by end of this year, at least 50 percent of all the children born by HIV Positive mothers are diagnosed and receive results within 10 weeks.
The care and treatment clinic forms will also have to be reviewed to include infant development parameters and at least 80 percent of infected children who are eligible to start Anti Retro Viral Treatment are accessing appropriate medication.
But looking at the bigger picture, funding will also be an issue such that at the end of this year, the government and development partners should have increased the PMTCT budget at least by 10 percent of the baseline.
As things stand now, on average, national response to the HIV and AIDS scourge receives about (743bn/-) $ 550 million per year with 96 percent of it supported by donors. This is against the current year requirements of 1.1 trn/-.
However, available funds is only 726 bn/- hence the gap of 374 bn/- which is almost a 50 percent deficit.
The issue of funding should be on the agenda this year as the 2010/2011 budget is tabled, even as it is already clear that the budget for the Health and Social Welfare ministry would be cut by 30 per cent from the 96bn/- allocated in the current financial year to 678bn/-,as it is read in Parliament today.
‘UBESHI’: Safari ya Vijana Kuifikia Almasi Mwadui-Shinyanga
MAJUZI nilikuwa katika utafiti wa namna gani Madini ya Almas yanayopatikana katika Mji Mdogo wa Maganzo Wilayani Kishapu mkoani Shinyanga umewanufaisha wananchi wanaozunguka Mgodi wa Almasi wa Mwadui.
Hofu ya Usalama kwa wafanyakazi GGM Yatanda
SIKU chache baada ya moto kuzuka ndani ya mgodi wa Geita (GGM) na kuteketeza mali zenye thamani ya zaidi ya shilingi Bilioni 25,hofu kubwa ya kupoteza maisha imeibuka kwa uongozi na wafanyakazi wa mgodi huo.
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