By Devota Mwachang’a
At least 90 percent of HIV-positive pregnant women in Tanzania have been engaged into use of antiretroviral treatment to stop their infants from getting the virus.
The percentage has been reached due to the Prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programme which was piloted in 2000 at five clinics, and later expanded throughout the country.
The National strategy by 2013 was by to have greater than 80% of HIV-infected women enrolled in PMTCT receive family planning and prevention services.
Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Ummy Mwalimu said the implementation of the PMTCT programme has contributed to the decrease of HIV transmission from mother to child, from 21% in 2009 to 7.6% in year 2015.
Minister Mwalimu in her dialogue with United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) executive director, Michael Sidibe who visited the ministry’s office in Dar es Salaam on Thursday, said: “Currently, 95 percent of pregnant women can access to HIV-testing services for safely delivering to their child.”
She detailed that the country has taken major measures in fighting against AIDS in achieve the goals to reduce new HIV/AIDS infections in the country by year 2030.
“The record of HIV/AIDS infections in the country has reduced from 7.1% in 2007/8 to 5.1% in 2011/12. The government-led efforts to youth group especially girls who are at risk of getting HIV infections,” she said.
UNAIDS Director General Michael Sidibe said in fighting against AIDS, donors have been playing big role in the HIV/AIDS financing in Tanzania, UNAIDS is ready to continue assisting the county by arranging sustainable strategy to ensure even once donor’s financing cut-off, service continues.
“I congratulate the government through its Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children for the fights against AIDS in the country, by managing to engage 935,228 people living with HIV in the use of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs by June 2017,” said Sidibe.
According to reports, initial HIV/AIDS cases in Tanzania were detected in the 1980s. By 1986, the epidemic was widespread, spanning throughout the mainland.
From the outset, the Tanzanian government was deeply committed to fighting the disease. In 1985, the government, through the Ministry of Health, established the National AIDS Control Programme to coordinate prevention and control. But the epidemic continued to grow, reaching its peak in the 1990s. The Tanzania Commission for HIV/AIDS (TACAIDS) was formed in 2000 to provide strategic leadership and coordinate public and private stakeholders.