June 17, 2014

Shortage of Health Workers Hinders Pediatric HIV Treatment

Lack of adequate medical workers is affecting HIV Pediatric care treatment in Kabarole district.

HIV-AIDS

Statistics at the district health department indicate there are more than 800 children infected with HIV.

However, only 200 HIV positive children are able to access Anti-retroviral Treatment (ART) in health centres in rural areas. Pediatric care includes testing, counseling and treatment of all children who test HIV-positive.

At Busoro Health Centre III, David Musiime, the in-charge says that they were offering ART for children, but it was halted two months ago due to staff shortage.

Musiime says that some of the health workers at the facility aren’t trained to offer pediatric treatment and care.

He says that three health workers, who were specialists in pediatric treatment, were transferred four months ago and have never been replaced.

Geraldine Kamakune, a nurse at Karambi Health Centre III, says that they receive more than thirty children a week in need of treatment and counseling, but the number of staff at the centre is inadequate.

Kamakune says that the health workers at the facility aren’t trained to ensure that HIV-exposed or infected children are identified and enrolled for treatment and care.

She says that some of the parents who come with the infected children are turned away and instead referred to Fort Portal referral hospital where the staff is adequate.

Beatrice Mukonyezi whose 10 year-old grandson is HIV-positive, says that she has several times been turned away from Bukuku Health Centre III. Mukonyezi spends lots of money when taking her children for treatment at Buhinga hospital.

Gerald Musinguzi, the Kabarole district HIV/AIDS focal person, admits the shortage of health workers is affecting delivery of services.

He however says that the district health department has advertised for 70 posts for health workers and 30 of them will be trained in pedantic treatment and care.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), since HIV progresses rapidly in children, pediatric treatment is vital to the survival of infected children. Without treatment, one third of children living with HIV will die in their first year of life.

The National Forum of People Living with HIV/AIDS Networks in Uganda (NAFOPHANU) estimates there are more than 26,000 children who are on ART and between 20,000 and 24,000 children are infected with HIV each year.

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