HIV: Caritas Nigeria gives antenatal care for Enugu pregnant mothers

In continuation of its ACCESS project, Caritas Nigeria in its Faith-Based Approach to increase identification and treatment of women and children with Human Immune Virus, HIV, has celebrated a ‘Mother Love Party’ for pregnant women and their husbands in Enugu state.

The party involved antenatal care treatments, testing of pregnant women and their husbands for HIV, gifts of delivery kits, and a social gathering for the women, their kids and husbands.

Speaking at the event in Holy Cross Catholic Parish Iji-Nike, on Thursday, Caritas Nigeria Director of Clinical services, Dr. Lare Olayiwola stated that the party was an expanded strategy for identifying positive patients living with HIV, through an unconventional method for FAITH Project.

“One of the core objectives of the programme is to prevent HIV transmission from Mother to Child. We engage religious institutions and leaders to disseminate correct and accurate information about HIV. The goal is that when people of influence that commands respect in the community, such as the clergy, are talking about something correctly, it automatically resonates to the people and the goal is for the people to understand the message which will reduce the stigma associated with living with HIV/AIDS.

“So, today is the Mother Love Party, an atmosphere created for pregnant women to interact together. They will be given a package which contains delivery materials. We want to ensure that the partners of the pregnant women identify with them in the course of their pregnancy.

“We’ve equally made provision for people to be tested, not just for HIV but for other disease conditions such as hepatitis B, blood pressure, Malaria, and give them basic routine pregnancy drugs. The presence of the husbands also allows us to test those husbands because the risk of transmitting HIV during pregnancy is higher than any other time.

“If a woman acquires HIV during pregnancy, there is also a higher risk that the virus will be transmitted to the baby. So if we are able to test the pregnant woman and their husbands, should we find anyone that is positive amongst them, we ensure that they are linked promptly to treatment and we shall prevent transmission of that virus to the baby.

“We don’t want the next generation to be infected with HIV, so this forum provides us with the opportunity to achieve that because some women don’t go to hospital, they don’t attend antenatal, they don’t deliver in the hospital, but this community environment allows those who are not used to going to hospitals to receive the same services they would have received in the hospital.

A senior clinical specialist with Caritas Nigeria, Dr. Sampson Onyemachi said that the organization realized that Nigeria was lagging behind in HIV services for pregnant women, particularly at the community level where some women don’t go to hospitals and are uninformed about their HIV status.

“So we organized this outreach so that we can reach out to them because people will always come to church or other religious venues and that’s why we devised a means to reach them and so far we have a very good response here.”

One of the pregnant women, Mrs. Ukamaka Agbo said that their catholic persist mobilized them for the healthcare initiative, disclosing that her experience with the attendant doctors and nurses was very much professional like specialist clinics she was used to.

“I used to go to a government hospital where it takes a long time to receive treatment but here everything is ok, fast and professional,” Agbo said.


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