Healthy Mum – Healthy Baby
HIV and AIDS have had a significant impact on infant and child deaths. Although some progress is being made in reducing HIV prevention to infants, nutrition is a crucial key according to UNICEF and WHO. HIV prevention is not enough in the context of mother to child transmission. It is necessary also to consider ways to improve maternal health to protect and enhance the rate of child survival.
WHO strongly recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six to twelve months of life to ensure survival since ARVs are now available to positive lactating and pregnant women with a CD4 count of less than 350. In some developing countries such as Ghana food insecurity, poor food intake and sickness due to malnourishment may force some of these women to get off their medication. Malnourished positive pregnant women tend to have too high a viral load which increases the probability of HIV transmission to the baby! Glad Star Ministries implemented a food assistance program as part of the PTMTC program at IHCC.
The patients at IHCC receive rice, beans, eggs, tomato paste and cooking oil every month. They also receive prenatal vitamins, folic acid and calcium as required. Stella Lowe believes that this program will improve the mothers’ health, improve pregnancy outcomes and ensure the survival of the child.
Since 2009, over 50 expectant mothers have benefited from the program ensuring healthier babies being born. Since 2011, SAML-UK has also been supporting the program. plans are to expand the program to Branch offices/clinics in 2013.