July 7, 2013

Mother to Child HIV prevention program Hit by Shortage of Testing Kits

The shortage of HIV testing kits is affecting the implementation of the Prevention of Mother to Child HIV Transmission PMTCT program in Ntungamo district. Besides the shortage of HIV testing kits, implementers of the porgram are faced with a challenge of inadequate supply of option B+ medication. 

In March, government launched the B+ option at Itojo hospital in Ntungamo district, which is aimed at preventing mother to child HIV/ Aids transmission. Option B+ is a lifelong treatment that is administered to expectant mothers living with HIV at 14 weeks of their pregnancy irrespective of their CD4 count.

Shortage of HIV testing kits is hindering the prevention of mother to child program
Shortage of HIV testing kits is hindering the prevention of mother to child program

In Ntungamo district the option B+ is being implemented in 17 health centers and Itojo Hospital. However, Francis Twesigye, the PMTCT focal person says for the last three months they have been faced with a huge challenged due to the shortage of HIV testing kits and medicines for option B plus.

He says currently they are pushing on with help from Star south west, a USAID funded NGO operating in the region that provided health centers with option B+ medication. Twesigye also decries the shortage of health workers amidst the overwhelming number of mothers seeking the PMTCT services.

Sister Ann Ogaaga, in charge antenatal clinic at Itojo Hospital says despite facing problem of poor staffing and inadequate supplies they have enrolled 65 mothers on PMTCT, within in a period of three months. Darlson Barugahare, the Woman councilor for Ntungamo municipality says they are yet to feel the impact of the program in rural areas. She faults the program implementers of failing to reach to expectant mothers in rural areas.

Dr. Richard Bakamuturaki, the Ntungamo district health officer blames the problem of staff shortages on the failure by district service commission to recruit additional medical workers to fill the existing gaps. Bamuturaki says health centers in the district only have half of the required number of personnel.  He however, says that as a department they have tried their level best to roll out the program, despite the slow response by government.

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