Male involvement in prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV and Aids remains very low in Zimbabwe highlighting the need to expand on strategies such as community dialogues to increase participation.
By Phyllis Mbanje
Research findings have revealed that most men are not being tested for HIV along with their pregnant spouses and yet the success of the programme is routed in the combined efforts of both parties.
Leading international health body World Health Organisation (WHO) says lack of partner support reduces the likelihood of women engaging with services and makes it difficult to adhere to PMTCT guidance.
“Non-disclosure makes it more difficult for women to adhere to PMTCT guidance, as opposed to situations where partners are aware,” a WHO 2014 research noted.
A good case study of how male involvement is critical in achieving success is that of Nemanwa Clinic in Masvingo.
The clinic has been recording close to zero HIV positive babies and the authorities attributed that to the successful integration of men into the programme.
Zimbabwe has come a long way in reducing transmission of HIV to infants which, according to the Zimbabwe Aids Response Progress Report for 2015, has been tumbled down from 21% in 2009 to 6,6% in 2014.
HIV contributes to reduction of maternal deaths by 21%.
The vast majority of all childhood HIV is acquired vertically with up to 40% of exposed breastfed infants becoming HIV positive.
In resource limited settings typical of Zimbabwean communities, PMTCT programmes can reduce such vertical transmission below 5%.