HomeNewsUN health programmes benefit pregnant, lactating mothers

UN health programmes benefit pregnant, lactating mothers


Pregnant and lactating women from rural Chiredzi are benefiting immensely from the United Nations H4+ intervention strategy, which advocates for a stronger focus on maternal, newborn and child health.

By Phyllis Mbanje

The programme, a partnership between United Nations agencies such as the United Nations Children’s Fund, United National Population Fund and World Health Organisation, is also aimed at strengthening health systems to enable better provision of services for the mothers and their babies.

“Lesser women are giving birth at home and since the beginning of the year, no child born to an HIV-positive mother has been infected,” Phahlela Clinic nurse-in-charge Siyananiso Shava in rural Chiredzi said.

Achieving early infant diagnosis of HIV, which has always been one of the greatest challenges in most remote areas, is no longer an issue, as blood tests and results are transported speedily.

“There used to be delays in the collection of the dry blood tests to laboratories in town, but now, we have a reliable transport system which guarantees us turnover time which is favourable,” Shava said.

Previously, many babies, after the initial tests, were being lost to follow-up, as their results were taking too long.

This became one of the greatest barriers to accessing treatment for the babies that needed it, as their parents ended up not coming back to the health facility for the results.

The programme is also concerned with maternal health and child health and acts as a catalytic support for the various interventions that are employed to stem needless deaths of women and children.

At Chizvirizvi Health Centre situated along the Tanganda-Ngundu Highway, pregnant women were encouraged to attend their antenatal classes, which are critical in monitoring progress of the baby.

“We test the mothers when they come for the initial registration and those that are HIV positive are initiated on antiretroviral therapy and managed accordingly,” Joel Sidhuna, a nurse at the centre, said.

The H4+ partnership includes capacity building of health personnel, providing critical medical equipment and supplies, as well as tackling issues like child nutrition, which encompasses breastfeeding and other feeding options.

“We were taught that breastfeeding a baby for the first six months was critical in building up their immune systems,” 28-year-old Clara Mutombo from Gonarezhou said.

For 35-year-old Noriah Chinana, the mothers’ waiting homes have offered her relief, as she comes from a village 40km away from the clinic.

“At least, I will not worry about giving birth on the way to the clinic. Once I clock 32 weeks, I book into the home,” Chinana explained.

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