Written by: Gerald G. Githinji | Monitoring and Evaluation Officer – NAISHI Project
“I had already lost a child. He was 10 years when it happened,” she said. “It was shocking that a few months after we laid my baby to rest, I was pregnant. I could not fathom how I, a single mother would be able to raise three children, but that was the least of my worries.”
Lack of knowledge sometimes cripples our judgment culminating to poor decisions. Sometimes it brings fear. Ivy was not excited by this pregnancy, even slightly. She had no idea how to ensure that her child would be HIV negative. While attending her monthly clinic visits she had heard several Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) messages shared during health talks and support group meetings at the Wingemi Health Centre in Mwingi but she was sceptical. She did not want to bury another child.
“I am glad the Clinician was there that day,” Said Ivy. She received counselling from the clinician at Wingemi Health Centre, Douglas Muniu. She was assured that if she followed the doctor’s instructions to the letter, her unborn baby would be HIV free. She adhered to her clinic days, taking her drugs as advised, and absorbing every bit of information she received at the clinic. Ivy and the Clinician developed a doctor-patient relationship where she had complete trust and confidence in him.
Ivy’s expected day of delivery was fast approaching. She had already made her decision – a decision that would make her go against the grain.
Naming of a new-born in the local context follows an unwritten rule. Communities follow to this rule without requiring a sitting by the elders. Some communities name their children after family members who have passed on, others after seasons or time of day/night when the child was born, and others after their parents. This was not the case for Ivy. When she delivered a bouncing baby boy weighing 2.9 kilograms, she decided to name him after the Clinician.
“I was given Nevirapine at birth for the child to take until I stopped breastfeeding. At six weeks, my son had his first PCR test, it was negative. The nine and 18 month antibody tests all came back negative,” she said with a smile.
“I breastfed exclusively for six months,” she said proudly. She attributes her child’s HIV negative status to a great relationship between her and the Clinician.
She is now a CHS supported mentor mother at Wingemi Health Centre where among other things, she ensures that this doctor-patient relationship is created, strengthened and maintained for other clients, offers patient care and supports those around her to seek HIV testing and counselling services.
Her parting shot, “Once a patient has utmost confidence in their care giver, the outcomes are always favourable.”
Currently, over 40,000 pregnant women have received HIV testing services during their Antenatal Care (ANC) visits while 47,118 women have accessed PMTCT services across CHS supported facilities in Machakos, Makueni and Kitui counties.
With funding from the US President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), CHS supports 131 health facilities in this region to implement and expand sustainable high quality HIV services specifically comprehensive HIV prevention, care and treatment services.
* Name changed to protect identity