BURUNDI: Medical personnel trained on prevention of mother-to-child HIV infection
HIV/AIDS awareness campaign poster in Bujumbura
BUJUMBURA, 30 March (PLUSNEWS) - African Synergy, an initiative of African first ladies on HIV/AIDS, begun on Monday a five-day training programme for 73 medical doctors, nurses and social workers on the prevention of mother-to-child HIV infection.
The training falls under activities of the local chapter of African Synergy, launched last week by Burundian first lady Aude Ndayizeye.
The participants are being trained on the different aspects of prevention of mother-to-child HIV infection such as counselling, administration of anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs); treatment of opportunistic diseases and nutrition.
The executive secretary of African Synergy, Jean Stéphane Biatcha, said at the beginning of the training that mother-to-child HIV infections in Africa contributed significantly to the spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and compromised future generations in the continent.
Biatcha was in Burundi to represent Cameroon first lady Chantal Biya, who is also the chairwoman of the African Synergy.
"The situation of women and children in Africa has reached a critical stage to become an alarming concern," he said "Two thirds of positive people in the world are women and eight hundred thousand children are infected by their mothers every year."
In Burundi, 193 out of 1,266 women tested in a 2003 survey undertaken by the Centre for Training and Research in Infectious Diseases were found to be HIV positive. The study was carried out at a pilot centre for prevention of mother-to-child HIV infection in the Burundian capital, Bujumbura.
Launching the local chapter of African Synergy last week, Aude Ndayizeye said the HIV/AIDS situation in the country could worsen with the increasing number of rape victims. She said the prevention of mother-to-child infection would, therefore, bring hope for mothers if all partners supposed the African Synergy initiative.
She also expressed concern over the high rates of HIV infection of children by their mothers saying 480 babies were born with HIV annually.
Centres for the prevention of mother-to-child HIV infection have opened in the Bujumbura, Kayanza, Bururi, Bubanza and Gitega areas. "But they needed to be strengthened both in capacities and equipment," Dr Jean Paul Nyarushatsi, the coordinator of the training, told IRIN on Tuesday.
In its general assembly in 2001, the UN had pledged to reduce the rate of HIV transmission of mother to child by 20 percent by the year 2005.