Unicef in action
Taking better care of women and children infected and affected by HIV
UNICEF plays a vital role in supporting HIV positive women and children and those affected by the disease in Burkina Faso. The primary focus for these two groups has been prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) and pediatric care. Beginning in 2001, a significant contribution has made to the reduction of mother-to-child HIV transmission. UNICEF has given institutional support at the central and district levels.
UNICEF had significant input into the formulation of the government of Burkina Faso’s 2000-2005 PMTCT programme. This aimed at curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS among the population, and specifically at reducing by 50% the vertical transmission of the disease—that is, from mother to child. UNICEF helped in the production of documents such as the government’s Integrated Communication Plan, with training modules, instructions, and the identification of indicators.
UNICEF also helps to evaluate Burkina Faso’s PMTCT programme, to identify the weaknesses and strengths of its implementation. In June 2006, UNICEF initiated a joint technical assistance mission with the World Health Organization (WHO), the US-based Clinton Foundation, and all partners involved in the PMTCT programme at the national level. This mission helped to choose the most appropriate pediatric treatments, establish the second (2006-2010) PMTCT programme, and to suggest fundraising tactics to support its implementation. The mission’s recommendations were fully accepted by the Ministry of Health. These measures will enable the expansion of the PMTCT programme, lead to greater pediatric care and facilitate the integration of the sexual reproductive health programme into the HIV prevention plan.
UNICEF supported PMTCT by focusing first on measures to prevent the spread of the disease, especially among adolescents and women, and on the improvement of the quality of maternal and child health services. The next important step was ensuring that HIV-positive pregnant women were given anti-retroviral drugs during delivery. UNICEF promoted good obstetrical practice and less risky diets for babies born of HIV positive women. Provision of psycho-social support to the mother and the child is also part of the UNICEF strategy. Counseling for voluntary HIV testing is an essential step in the prevention of mother to child transmission.
At the district level, UNICEF funded the supply of screening reagents and anti retroviral drugs, and supported capacity building in health centres to enable them to offer a PMTCT package among their services to the public. UNICEF aided in monitoring the implementation of PMTCT activities and putting into place communication plans for the districts. UNICEF mapped the two largest cities - Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso - according to their areas of HIV risk.
The contribution of the UNICEF HIV programme to the implementation of PMTCT remains significant. In one of four targeted districts, Secteur 22 in Bobo-Dioulasso, 65.51% per cent of all pregnant women are already reached by the programme in 2006, and in the others continuous gains are being recorded.
In 2005, the number of pregnant women who were tested in the four districts accounted for 21% of all the women tested in the country (Second Report, UNICEF HIV/AIDS thematic Funds, 2006
UNICEF signed an agreement with a local health service, Délégation Camilienne to ensure nutritional monitoring and to provide food aid, medical and psycho-social care to about 200 children.
For the 2006-2010 period, UNICEF has expanded the PMTCT supported districts from four to eight. UNICEF is also expanding its programme of providing anti-retroviral drugs and improving the access of HIV-positive women to medical care. Pediatric care also remains a high priority.