Malawi’s First Lady Gertrude Mutharika has bemoaned the low number of children currently on HIV/Aids treatment, arguing that more needs to be done to increase the number of children on the pandemic’s response strategy.
The First Lady was speaking in Lilongwe at a steering committee meeting of the Organization of African First Ladies on HIV and Aids-OAFLA.
Madame Mutharika said although HIV has largely been linked to men and women, children are also directly or indirectly affected and those who have been infected need to be given treatment.
“I am concerned to learn that we are leaving children behind in the HIV response and I want to support all efforts to ensure that we reach the target of 90.90.90 for children (including adolescents) by the year 2020.
“While we are proud to have put on treatment up to 70 percent of the adults affected by HIV, let’s work towards increasing the number of children receiving treatment as the current percentage of 40 percent is not enough,” she said.
She said while Malawi is proud to have put HIV positive women on Anti-retroviral treatment, she is also committed to ensuring that these women do not attract cervical cancer as these diseases are inter-linked.
The discussion which attracted participants from the Ministry of Health, The Coalition of Women Living with HIV/AIDS-COWHLA, The Elizabeth Glazer Foundation, PEPFAR and UNAIDS, looked at the how Malawi can scale up participation of women in cervical cancer screening and HIV testing.
The steering committee represents organisations that are already working in the areas of pediatric HIV and maternal and child health.
The meeting also looked at policy and programme challenges that organisations are facing with respect to scaling up testing and treatment for HIV positive children and scaling up cervical cancer screening and management for HIV positive women.
“I also want to hear from you how I can be of support to the work that is already taking place” she further said.
Chairperson of the Steering Committee Dr Charles Mwansambo who is also Chief of Health Services in the Ministry of Health said the First Lady will use her position to influence more women to go for cervical cancer screening.