U.S. Ambassador to Namibia Thomas Daughton says projects supported by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in Zambezi Region are yielding positive results.
The ambassador said this on Monday during a familiarisation visit to assess health facilities in the region which are supported by PEPFAR.
During his visit the ambassador met with six HIV-positive mothers whose children have tested negative after turning 18 months old.
Daughton applauded HIV/AIDS field extension workers at the DAPP (Development Aid from People to People) office in the region for a job well done in helping HIV-positive mothers improve their living conditions for the sake of their children.
“What a terrific job you are doing. I am happy that today I am standing here with children who have tested negative. We are going to try to control the epidemic and you are soldiers on the ground,” said Daughton.
He further encouraged field extension workers to continue working hard in registering HIV-positive mothers and helping them live an improved life, which in turn will benefit their children. He added that by so doing a HIV-free generation dream will be realised.
Currently the DAPP office in Katima Mulilo has about 129 registered mothers receiving health education and life skills training on how to better their life for the sake of their children.
The Total Control of the Epidemic (TCE) division commander in the Zambezi, Melody Chipadze, said that the division is working tirelessly in reaching out to people in the community.
“We are working very hard and each field worker is reaching out to about 2 500 community members,” said Chipadze.
She said that helping HIV-positive mothers has become a priority for their office and is yielding positive results.
“We train them how to live a healthy life and ensure that their children are not infected. We run various tests and the last test is done when the child turns 18 months. Once the child turns 18 months they are no longer at any risk of being infected as at this age they are no longer breastfeeding,” said Chipadze.
Namibia as a whole has been working tirelessly to reduce new infections from mother to child. Mother-to-child transmission is still a major challenge worldwide.
Without intervention, HIV-infected mothers have a 35 percent overall risk of transmitting the HIV virus to their children during pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding.
The U.S. ambassador also visited Bukalo clinic some 40 kilometres outside Katima Mulilo, where he met with the patients’ expert deployed at the clinic.