The support from donors through the Global Giving site is deeply appreciated and acknowledged. Your contributions have allowed us to continue campaigning for the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) to strive for an aware generation of mothers knowing that HIV transmission from mother to child is preventable and has the potential to greatly influence all future generations of South Africans.
The Children’s Rights Centre which is the Secretariat of the Yezingane Network ran a successful awareness raising PMTCT campaign during the past two years. The next step of the PMTCT Campaign is to mobilize, engage and build the capacity of Yezingane Network member organizations working at provincial level on understanding and championing initiatives aimed at scaling up the prevention of Mother–to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) through workshops, community dialogues and information sharing. These initiatives will also focus on the promotion of safe breastfeeding.
The Children’s Rights Centre and the Yezingane Network will continue to utilize the various communication channels of TV, radio, print and digital media to direct messages across South Africa to a wide variety of women that includes mothers and women who are planning on a pregnancy.
As a means to strengthening collaboration and partnership around PMTCT, it is important that the youth, women and men’s sectors are included in all initiatives. In light of this inter-sectorial meetings will be held to enhance the knowledge of PMTCT and breastfeeding. These collaborations can only result in positive outcomes for the prevention of mother to child transmission and will assist in working towards the Children’s Sector’s vision of 3 Zero’s:
We look forward to the continued support of donors and appreciate your generosity for it is only through our combined efforts that we prevent HIV in babies.
According to UNICEF without preventive interventions, approximately one-third of infants born to HIV-positive mothers contract HIV through mother-to-child transmission, becoming infected during their mothers' pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. In 2001, 800,000 children under the age of 15 contracted HIV, over 90 per cent of them through mother-to-child transmission of HIV (MTCT). Between 15 and 25% of children born to HIV-infected mothers get infected with HIV during pregnancy or delivery, while about 15% of the children get infected through breastfeeding.
The aim of the Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission of HIV and AIDS campaign launched by the Yezingane Network (housed at Children’s Rights Centre) in August 2013 was to raise awareness of PMTCT Services available to pregnant and lactating mothers as well as to promote healthy behaviours including adherence to treatment, safe breastfeeding and early and regular antenatal clinic visits. Materials were developed, printed and distributed to mothers across South Africa with the aim of educating and highlighting the significance of exclusive breast feeding.
We have seen much interest around the PMTCT campaign, and continue to strive for an aware generation of mothers knowing that HIV transmission from mother to child is preventable and has potential to greatly influence our future generation.
Thus far we have taken the initiative of translating the available PMTCT Guidelines into 2 indigenous languages namely IsiZulu and Sotho. The aim of translating the materials into local languages was for local people within the communities to be able to easily understand them and also create an awareness about the importance of PMTCT and exclusive breast-feeding. These publications are being distributed to different organisations, especially within the rural areas.
Besides the PMTCT guidelines, there is also the Infant Feeding FAQ Booklet with questions and answers for breastfeeding mothers both HIV infected and HIV negative. This booklet was produced in 2010, and has been updated. It was developed in order to inform, educate and advise mothers and health care workers about the importance of exclusive breast feeding, which simply means giving the baby no other food or drink – not even water- except breast milk. This booklet was found to be very useful by health workers and paediatricians to such an extent that the Yezingane Network saw the need to update the booklet and also translate it into the 2 local languages.
The Infant Feeding FAQ booklet is being distributed with a breastfeeding cartoon video developed for lactating mothers which was launched in the week of 1-7 August 2014 (World Breastfeeding Week.)
These valuable resources used as a platform on our social media network sites to create awareness and encourage healthy behaviours and highlight the importance of exclusive breast feeding and its benefits.
This is a full-colour picture handbook for children living with HIV published by the Children's Rights Centre. It encourages children to live positively and to participate actively in the medical and health management of their illness. The book was informed by children, families, doctors, nurses and teachers. Pictures, activities and simple information provide the child with advice and clear explanations of health and treatment issues.
The support of donors through the Global Giving site is deeply appreciated and acknowledged and it has been through your assistance that we have been able to make the “My Living Positively” series a reality for many children and caregivers across South Africa.
Ever since Children's Rights Centre started distributing this handbook in April 2009, we have received nothing but positive feedback from Child Health Care Workers and other organisations who use the book as a training tool. We have also received a number of requests from partner organisations such as NACOSA (Networking AIDS Community of South Africa) and MATCH (Maternal, Adolescent and Child Health) to mention but a few asking for more copies as they find the handbook very helpful, simple and easy for children to work with and also understand their HIV status. To date we have distributed more than 8000 handbooks with the adult guides namely "Helping Children living with HIV." These were also translated into 2 indigenous languages IsiZulu and Xhosa.
Due to the demand of the materials we have once again run out of stock and currently do not have enough funding to print more copies for distribution to all other organisations in need of this very useful handbook. Children's Rights Centre has tried other means of fundraising to cover the printing costs but this was insufficient. We therefore urge all people to please continue donating in order for us to reprint the handbook to continue helping our children deal with their HIV status and also educate others.
We thank you for your commitment and support in helping children living with HIV.
The children's book My Living Positively Handbook is a book for young children who are HIV positive. It was made by children, families, doctors, nurses and teachers. Pictures, activities and simple information help the child to find out many ways to live positively.
There will never be enough words to show our admiration and gratitude to the young people and their families who opened their lives, their homes, and their stories to us. We are also grateful for the contribution of technical support and substantive information from partner organisations, individuals and families. We would also like to thank all our funders including Global Giving Foundation (especially the individual donors whom we cannot mention all by name). You have all helped to make this book for children a reality, through your logistical, administrative and financial support.
Ever since Children's Rights Centre started distributing this handbook in April 2009, we have received nothing but only positive feedback from Child Health Care Workers and other organisations doing trainings using the book. We have received a number of requests from other partner organisations such as NACOSA (Networking AIDS Community of South Africa) and MATCH (Maternal, Adolescent and Child Health) to mention a few asking for more copies as they find this handbook very helpful, simple and easy for children to work with and also understand their HIV status. We have therefore managed to distribute more than 8000 handbooks with adult guides namely "Helping Children living with HIV." These were also translated into 2 indigenous languages IsiZulu and Xhosa.
It is so unfortunate that we have again run out of stock and currently do not have enough funding to print out more copies for distribution to all other organisations in need of this very useful handbook. Children's Rights Centre have tried other means of fundraising but was not enough to cover the costs. We would therefore like to ask all our funders to please continue donating as we would like to get this book re-printed and continue helping our children deal with their HIV status and also educate others.
Thanking you all in advance for your commitment and cooperation in helping children living with HIV.
Breastfeeding and prevention of mother to childtransmission of HIV
Breastfeeding is universally accepted as the food of choice for all young infants. It provides all the nutritional requirements for infants up to six months of age – there is no need for additional food or water and also has other non-nutritional properties that are necessary for optimal growth and brain development in young babies. As such, the global recommendations for optimal nutrition of young infants and children by the WHO and UNICEF is exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant’s life and introduction of nutritionally adequate and safe complementary feeding beginning at six months of age with continued breastfeeding for up to two years of age. The benefits of breastfeeding, both short and long term are multiple and varied.
Benefits for the baby
Breastfeeding is cost effective and readily available. Breast milk makes the baby’s immune system strong because it contains unique antibodies. Infections like pneumonia and ear infections are more common and more severe in infants who are not breastfed. Breastfeeding has been shown to have a protective effect against necrotizingenterocolitis (inflammation of the bowels) in premature infants. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of allergy mediated diseases such as type one diabetes and asthma later in life. Breastfeeding is associated with greater intelligence in older childhood and adulthood. Breastfeeding has also been shown to potentially have a protective effect on obesity and childhood leukaemia. The use of formula milk in developing countries may increase the risk of mortality in young children by causing diarrhoeal diseases. Formula feeding is also associated with poor growth and development.
Benefits for the mother
Breastfeeding also has short and long term benefits for the mother. It results in a quicker contraction of the womb after delivery and thus minimizes bleeding after delivery. Breastfeeding promotes mother and childbonding and has been shown to be protective against depression or post-delivery “blues”. Breastfeeding assists may also be a form of contraception by delaying the periods from returning after the baby. (You still need to use additional contraception though!) Women who breastfeed their infants have been found in studies to have a decreased risk of having breast and ovarian cancer than their non breastfeeding counterparts.
Unfortunately, the HIV pandemic has resulted in conflicting messages about breastfeeding and this has overshadowed the benefits associated with breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has also been under threat fromthe competitive and often unethical promotion of industrial breast milk substitutes by companies producing formula milk.
Research has shown that the HI virus is transmitted through breast milk from the breastfeeding mother to her infant, and the risk of transmission is present for as long as the infant is breastfed. Public health experts estimate that HIV-infected mothers have a 10 to 15 percent chance of passing the virus to their newborns through their breast milk.In developed countries, women who are HIV infected are encouraged to avoid breastfeeding. This is becauseavoidance of breastfeeding in the developed world is not accompanied by the adverse results of formula feeding seen in developing countries. In the developing countries, avoidance of breastfeeding is associated with increased risk of death and poor growth and development due to increased risk of diarrhoeal and respiratory infections and malnutrition. As such, HIV infected women indeveloping countries are faced with the dilemma of either transmitting the HIvirus to their infants through breastfeeding or risking their children dying, malnutrition and poor growth if they avoid breastfeeding.
Policies that encouraged the avoidance of breastfeeding are based on studies from developed countries and have been shown to be inappropriate for the developing countries.
We now know from extensive research that exclusive breastfeeding lowers the risk of mother to child transmission of HIV. Antiretroviral treatment given to the mother and the baby also lowers the transmission of HIV from mother to infant. Antiretroviral treatment for the prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) has evolved over the years from a single drug (Nevirapine) given to the mother in labour to fixed dose combination antiretroviral drugs. Atroiza is a combination of three drugs that are used in treating HIV: Tenofovir, Emtricitabine and Efavirenz. Atroiza is taken once daily by all pregnant women who test HIV positive during their antenatal care. The combination treatment is continued throughout the pregnancy and during breastfeeding. The newborn HIV exposed baby is also started on a daily dose of Nevirapine syrup for six weeks. The provision of combination antiretroviral drugs to both mother and baby and exclusive breastfeeding for six months with continued breastfeeding up to one year as recommended in the current South African PMTCT policy of April 2013 makes breastfeeding much safer even in HIVpositive women.
The problem is that most breastfeeding mothers do not practice exclusive breastfeeding. Breastfed babies often receive water, formula and even other foods in combination with breastmilk before six months of age.Mixed feeding (mixing breast milk with water, other foods or formula) increases the risk of the HI virus being transmitted to the baby because the young infants delicate bowels become damaged by the foods which make it easy for the virus to get into the baby through the cracks.
The challenge for health care professionals is to educate and support mothers to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months of an infant’s life. There is a need to expel myths and change mindsets towards exclusive breastfeeding by continuous education and support. This together with the provision of antiretroviral drugs as per national policy will ensure that babies get the full benefits of breastfeeding and remain free of HIV infection.
In conclusion Exclusive breastfeeding, even in HIV positive women is an important strategy for child survival. If antiretroviral drugs are given to both mother and baby and an HIV-positive woman is fully adherent with the treatment throughout the duration of breastfeeding, the actual risk of transmitting HIV through breast milk is exceedingly low.
The best food for all babies is still breast milk. This is true whether or not a motheris HIV infected.
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