WINDHOEK, 06 JUN – HIV-positive mothers can now breastfeed until 12 months or longer according to the newly revised guideline for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Before, HIV-positive mothers could only breastfeed their infants exclusively for the first six months before initiating a supplementary diet for their infants.
Launching the guide here on Monday, Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, Juliet Kavetuna said the new recommendations also see to it that all HIV exposed infants receive Nevirapine for at least six weeks or longer depending on maternal viral load suppression.
Nevirapine is a medication used to prevent HIV transmission.
“The guide is to ensure provision of high quality service that meet national and international standards to accelerate progress in achieving the national (aim) in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV,” said Kavetuna.
She noted that the guide has been revised in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s recommendations of 2013 and 2014 National Anti-Retroviral Therapy for all pregnant women and was completed in November 2017.
At the same occasion, the deputy minister also launched the Adolescents and Young People Job Aid as a reference tool for primary level health workers.
Kavetuna noted that any contact by the health service with adolescents should be viewed as an opportunity to identify health-demanding habits as well as to counsel and educate the youth on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
“The purpose is to enable health workers to respond to adolescents and young people more effectively and with greater sensitivity,” she noted.
The aid was adapted from WHO’s Adolescent Job Aid of 2010 where relevant stakeholders and experts were extensively consulted to shape the content to fit the Namibian context.