Child Survival



Child Protection


Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission

© UNICEF/MOZA/00779/G.Pirozzi

Women living with HIV/AIDS can transmit the virus to their unborn or newborn baby during pregnancy, delivery or through breastfeeding (vertical transmission).

Most of the more than 90,000 Mozambican children under the age of 15 living with HIV/AIDS were infected through vertical transmission. More than half of them die before their first birthday.

In 2005, around 140,000 HIV-positive women will become pregnant in Mozambique. At least 3 in every 10 of them will transmit the virus to their child, if no intervention takes place.

If a pregnant woman living with HIV/AIDS participates in a Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme, the risk of transmission can be halved.

Major Activities Supported by UNICEF

The Ministry of Health, with support from UNICEF, set up a Prevention of Mother-to-Children Transmission (PMTCT) programme in 2000. A pregnant woman seeking ante-natal care will go through the following stages:

• Counseling on the risk of vertical HIV/AIDS transmission.
•  If the woman agrees, she will do a first rapid HIV/AIDS test and a second confirmatory test.
• Post-test counselling after results are given, regardless of the outcome. Patients who are positive are referred to a Day Hospital and are encouraged to bring their partners in for testing. They are also advised to practice only safe sex. Women with HIV/AIDS are urged to give birth in a hospital. Women who test negative are also advised to practice only safe sex.
• Safe and hygienic delivery at maternity wards is promoted. Doctors and nurses are encouraged to avoid prolonged labour. For home deliveries, traditional births attendants are being trained to take these precautions.
• A single dose of the anti-retroviral drug Nevirapine is given to the woman at the onset of labour. Babies born in hospitals receive the medicine as a syrup no later than 72 hours after birth.
• After having given birth, HIV-positive mothers are encouraged to join a Positive Mothers Club, which is a counseling and information-sharing group.
• Children participate in a follow-up programme that is part of the normal child health programme. This involves vaccination and growth monitoring. A baby’s HIV status is usually determined at 18 months. If referred to a Day Hospital, children are entitled to free consultations every three months and treatment to prevent opportunistic diseases associated with HIV/AIDS.
• Community organisations provide home-based care services to mothers and children living with HIV/AIDS.

UNICEF has been involved in shaping and expanding the PMTCT programme. 20 out of the current 44 PMTCT sites in the country were established with UNICEF support. These services are located in the provinces with the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence.

Since inception, the PMTCT programme has grown rapidly. More women are coming forward to be tested for HIV/AIDS.  As many women give birth at home, Nevirapine is now given to all women participating in the PMTCT programme during their last counseling session with instructions on how to use it.




 Email this article

unite for children