No child must be born with HIV. No mother must be afraid to have a child because of her HIV status. All mothers, regardless of HIV status, can have healthy, HIV negative babies. Thanks to Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) that is now available.
Yes, the medication is available for free. Why, because no child must be born with HIV.
Free to Shine is a campaign that endeavours to say goodbye to HIV and Aids by 2030. The Free To Shine campaign is led by the Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) and the African Union.
The campaign reinforces the political commitment of African nations to end childhood AIDS and keep mothers healthy. Their mission is to unite people and organisations from local to global level. They support personal, collective understanding of the actions we can take as communities.
The group scales up the drive to effective delivery and use of healthcare services to end childhood AIDS. Zimbabwe’s First Lady Auxillia Mnangangwa joined OAFLA in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in her quest to fight the pandemic at home and globally.
The First Lady has in her short stint as the country’s mother visited local hospitals, orphanages and has been a long-time friend to the disadvantaged communities in rural areas. She was in Hurungwe recently where she promised to uplift the lives of the needy.
She has visited rural Binga, has been to Harare Central Hospital in Harare and Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo. In Addis Ababa, she stressed that although she is new to the First Lady’s role, she however, is no novice in working for the people. She is a sitting Member of Parliament for Chirumanzu-Zibagwe, in the Midlands.
“I must emphasise that although I am new in my capacity as the First Lady of Zimbabwe, I am not new to issues around HIV and AIDS, maternal child mortality and empowerment of women,” said Mrs Mnangagwa.
She has in her constituency empowered women through livestock projects which have seen livelihoods projects improve. She supports pregnant women to register for ante natal clinic as this is the only sure way to give birth to HIV babies in the case of women living with HIV. OAFLA strives to raise awareness of the HIV epidemic in children and the need to prioritise children and mothers.
It is the group’s dream that information and understanding of how to prevent HIV in children is made available to all. This is achievable by keeping mothers alive and healthy, preventing mother-to-child transmission, ensuring fast, effective identification and treatment of HIV infected children.
They advocate to mobilise the resources and prioritise the delivery of effective and sustainable HIV/AIDS health services that are accessible to all who need them.
OAFLA demands that no one is left behind as it increases awareness of on services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV are well placed to achieve wider health goals and improve outcomes for children and mothers, including the elimination of sexually transmitted infections.
Barriers that prevent women from accessing health services for themselves and their children need to be broken. These are distance, stigma and discrimination compounded by lack of funding.
OAFLA seeks to strengthen the mobilisation of resources, prioritise the delivery of effective and sustainable health services to all who need them. Zimbabwe has lowered the mother to child transmission of HIV to 6,9 percent currently from 25 percent a decade ago. The country seeks to have the rate down to 5 percent by year end.
Zimbabwe strives to lowering it further by joining the ranks of Cuba which has eliminated the mother-to-child-transmition. Chidamoyo Clinic in Hurungwe, Mashonaland West, has since 2014 achieved the zero rate of HIV infections from mother-to-child.
More centres seek to do the same.