Elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (eMTCT)
Elimination of HIV transmission from mother to child (eMTCT) reduces infant mortality and is a first line of defence against the spread of the epidemic. HIV transmission from mothers to children can happen during pregnancy, at birth or through breastfeeding. Without care and treatment most of these babies will die in the first two years of life.
Many die at home before they have been properly diagnosed and treated. Mother-to-child transmission accounts for about 18 percent of the new HIV infections in Tanzania. With more than 1.5 million births annually and HIV prevalence among antenatal women at 6.6 percent, approximately 99,000 HIV-positive women are estimated to deliver exposed infants annually in Tanzania.
In the absence of prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) services, 43,050 children are each year born with HIV in Tanzania.
Good progress has been made in scaling up quality of PMTCT services. About 93 percent of reproductive and child health facilities nationwide have integrated PMTCT services, up from 78 percent in 2009.
However, only 55 percent of the HIV infected mothers and their babies receive more efficacious treatment regimens. Improving PMTCT services is paramount if Tanzania is to achieve virtual elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV.
What UNICEF is doing
Expanding access to quality PMTCT services is the key to eliminating new HIV infections in children. UNICEF’s support focuses on capacity building for provision of PMTCT services and the development of guidelines to strengthen service provision for maternal, new-born and child health which are aligned with the global agenda for elimination of new infections.
In line with this, a national eMTCT plan has been developed and existing PMTCT guidelines have been reviewed to integrate WHO recommendations and guidelines for early HIV diagnosis and care among infants.
UNICEF continues to support the government in implementing a sustainable, comprehensive and community-based eMTCT package that integrates care and treatment.
This includes training of health workers, provision of HIV testing supplies and antiretroviral drugs for PMTCT, promotion of male involvement in eMTCT, support for follow up of HIV infected women and children and provision of quality care and treatment services within a community setting.