One day at a time: A closer look at Zambia
This piece originally appeared on FHI 360's Degrees Blog. For the complete text, please visit: http://degrees.fhi360.org/one-day-at-a-time-a-closer-look-at-zambia/.
By Michael Welsh, PhD, MA, FHI 360 Country Director in Zambia and Prisca Kasonde, MD, MPH, Director, Technical Services, ZPCT II
FHI 360 supports the Government of Zambia’s Ministry of Health to create conditions in which newborns can enter the world free of HIV. With support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and under the Zambia Prevention Care and Treatment Partnership (ZPCT II), FHI 360 is working to eliminate mother-to-child transmission. We leverage all four prongs in the World Health Organization (WHO) and Zambia National Guidelines for prevention of mother-to-child transmission: 1) primary prevention of HIV acquisition; 2) preventing unintended pregnancies; 3) providing antiretroviral treatment (ART) prophylaxis during pregnancy and after birth; and 4) treatment and support to women living with HIV and to their families. As a result of these efforts, an increasing number of Zambian mothers are accessing effective mother-to-child transmission prevention services so that their newborns have a chance to live a full, healthy life.
World AIDS Day will be a typical day in Zambia, but the progress made on that day serves as a window into the national effort to eliminate mother-to-child transmission. On December 1, in ZPCT II-supported treatment sites alone (n =362), approximately 1,000 pregnant women will receive counseling and testing as part of their routine antenatal (prenatal) service. Those who have HIV will undergo immunologic testing and clinical staging to determine eligibility for lifelong ART; approximately 60 of the eligible women with HIV would be expected to start on ART prophylaxis on World AIDS Day. In the ZPCT II-supported facilities, approximately 50 pregnant women with HIV will give birth, with both the mother and baby receiving appropriate antiretrovirals during and immediately after birth to reduce mother-to-child transmission. And also on World AIDS Day, approximately 235 women will be referred for family planning services and provided with contraceptive options that will allow them to choose the timing of future pregnancies.
FHI 360’s efforts in Zambia on World AIDS Day reflect the important progress in the national effort to eliminate mother-to-child transmission. But when multiplied across a year, combined with other highly effective prevention approaches and strengthened year by year, they constitute real hope for an HIV-free generation in Zambia in our lifetime.