Sharing knowhow and joining forces towards Health for All
Contribution to the Annual Report 2012 of the MMI Network

Miriam's story

Like many other women from Burkina Faso, Miriam lives in Ivory Coast with her husband. Her family had emigrated there to find work. After some years, still in her twenties, she goes back to her native village in Burkina. She has lost weight, feels miserable, alone, abandoned by her husband and excluded by everyone because she does not have children. She has only had several miscarriages and stillbirths, and everyone thinks she is a cursed woman.

She probably wants to prove to herself that she is very well able to have a child. Miriam now has a new partner and gets pregnant. She goes to the medical center for antenatal consultation, and lucky enough, finds Rosine there, an excellent midwife who immediately performs an HIV test on her. The results turn out positive. Rosine sends her to the district hospital, where she is hospitalized and undergoes ARV therapy. She even receives a small amount of money and some food, which helps her have a slightly better life. She gains weight and her health increases; she has no problem in carrying on the pregnancy till the term of delivery. She gives birth to a beautiful and healthy child. At the age of two months, he is tested for HIV the first time and the results are HIV-negative. His mother is happy. The next and definite check-up will take place when he is 18 months old, after the weaning phase. Miriam will receive support throughout this phase: she will be provided with nourishing flours suitable for infants, and she will be taught how to prepare baby food for her child.

Miriam is one out of many burkinabé women “cursed by barrenness” who managed to have a child – and a healthy one who grows in a normal way as well – thanks to the national program for the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT). In particular, in the Nanoro district, the program is extremely successful, thanks to the collaboration among several project partners: the national health service (from the central services to the district health centers), the Hôpital Saint Camille of Nanoro, a private structure operating as reference hospital for the health centers, and the NGO Medicus Mundi Italy.

The health centers perform HIV-screening with pregnant women. They monitor pregnancies of HIV-positive women, and the child’s birth and growth, ensuring basic PMTCT. In case of symptomatic positive women, the centers encourage them to go to the district hospital, where ARV-therapy against HIV/AIDS is available and covered by national health service.

The Hôpital Saint Camille – thanks to its special agreement with the government – has competent staff trained to treat HIV/AIDS patients, both as in-patients and out-patients (Day-hospital). It also has a center for nutritional recovery and education (CREN), with staff trained to monitor and eventually improve the nutrition of children born to HIV-positive mothers. Mothers are given advice and complementary food during the weaning phase.

In this system, the NGO Medicus Mundi Italy works as a link between different parties to achieve the implementation of Millenium Developmental Goals Nr 4, 5 and 6 (reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases). Represented by a doctor and a logistic technician based at the hospital, the NGO:

  • provides a small stock of reagents, medicine and consumption goods necessary to cover the inevitable delays of supplies in products coming from the central health service;
  • helps the district in managing and distributing supplies to the different health centers to avoid service interruptions;
  • keeps in contact with health centers to follow up clinical cases, gives advice (from the ill woman refusing hospitalization to the dosage of drugs for mothers and children) or reports a case;
  • purchases enriched flours for the CREN to be given to infants of HIV-positive women.

So, from 2008 to 2012, all indicators, from the number of women tested to the coverage of prophylaxis on mothers and newborns, have continuously improved and have reached the WHO/UNAIDS goals for the elimination of pediatric AIDS:

Year

Pregnant women in ANC screened for HIV

HIV screening coverage in ANC

HIV+ pregnant
women

Newborns
of HIV+ mother

HIV+ mothers
receiving ARV therapy or prophylaxis

Infants of HIV+ mother receiving ARV prophylaxis

n

%

n

%

2008

1,288

24.1%

23

21

10

48.3%

10

48.3%

2009

2,767

49.7%

41

37

17

46.1%

18

48.8%

2010

3,919

69.6%

47

42

23

54.4%

27

63.8%

2011

5,247

92.1%

41

37

30

81.3%

31

84.0%

2012

4,909

94.2%

38

34

30

87.7%

32

93.6%

More information: www.medicusmundi.it  

 

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