Jean Mamo Assistant Coordinator for Mai Aisha Sisters Youth AIDS Programme (MASYAP) has stressed the need for every woman to have knowledge on issues of Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) as the World has reached a stage where every woman is supposed to have knowledge of (PMTCT) when pregnant.
“Every woman wants to give birth hence the need for every woman to have knowledge on PMTCT because this helps a woman from infecting the unborn child while pregnant and what to do to have a healthy life as well as reducing maternal deaths. Once they are aware about PMTCT they will be able to teach their children and fellow Muslim women at dawah and different gatherings,” says Mamo.
She says their organization plans to conduct more trainings to reach out to all Muslim women support groups saying that currently are doing home based care which takes them longer to finish as there are many women in different support groups.
Mamo therefore encourages all Muslim women to find any kind of education that can help them in as far as issues concerning HIV/AIDS are concerned. She asks them to go to Madrassahs, read the Quran and understand what it says and join groups that can help them to know more about this deadly pandemic.
MASYAP targets Muslim women and Mamo says this is so because the women were lacking behind because of their faith saying when people hear issues about condom, were taking it as a Haraam yet people were dying in silence but now things have improved. A lot of women now are able to understand that HIV has not spared any community.
“People have now realised that HIV/AIDS exist and that it kills; more Muslim are now coming [to our offices] and are open to declare their status,” she said.
Catherine Kassam PMTCT coordinator for Blantyre District says a woman is the one who gives birth, as such they make sure that a woman should protect the child while pregnant or breast feeding.
She says issues about PMTCT are for both a man and a woman because if a man has HIV can infect his wife and there are issues about condoms both male and female hence the need for both of them to know about PMTCT issues.
“When a woman is pregnant she needs to eat all the six groups of food and we know that more women do not work that is the reason why men are involved so that they know that once their wives are pregnant they need to support them by giving them balanced diet.
“They also need to come together for counselling so that they know what to do depending with their status,” she says.
Kassam says when a woman is tested HIV positive while pregnant they give them ARVs to help her from infecting the unborn child saying that it is very important for every woman to know her status before getting pregnant.
She adds that because it is difficult for every woman to test before getting pregnant they test the women when they come to ante natal clinics for counselling.
“We counsel them at ante natal, post natal and under five clinics as well as in groups and at family planning. We have 53 static clinics that are doing all the services and four mobile clinics which we do visit to give our services.
“We started in 2007 and since then we have achieved our goal as more children are born negative and more HIV pregnant are taking ARVs, our overall goal is to have free HIV generation,” says Kassam.
Ellah Hatele of Kameza Al-Barakah Muslim women support group who is HIV positive says she is happy because she has learned and benefited a lot since joining MASYAP two years ago.
“I live positively because l know what to do to have a healthy life and I am a leading example to fellow women who are shy to join MASYAP because it is better know your status than living ignorant, more women knows that I have the virus but they do not want to come openly and declare their status.
“I am urging them to come open as they do not know what will come in future considering that trainings and other opportunities are given to those who are members,” she says.
So does Patuma Osman of Chilomoni women support group who is HIV negative who urges fellow Muslim women who have not joined MASYAP not to hesitate saying that others fear their husbands yet they themselves know that this is a violation of their rights.
Currently, MASYAP has sixteen women support groups.