First Lady Gertrude Mutharika says Malawi can become one of the first countries globally to achieve the fast-track elimination of HIV mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) target of five percent or less by 2020 and eliminate paediatric Aids by 2030.
She was speaking yesterday in Lilongwe when she officially launched the Free to Shine Campaign as part of the Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV and Aids (Oafla) efforts to end paediatric Aids by 2020.
Mutharika said the African first ladies recognise that eliminating vertical transmission of HIV, reducing new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women, and keeping HIV-infected mothers on antiretroviral treatment (ARV) remains critical to achieving the 90:90:90 fast-track targets and ending Aids as a public health threat by 2030.
She said: “It is pleasing to note that over 80 percent of people living with HIV are currently on treatment and the country is on track to reaching the UNAids 90:90:90 fast-track targets, having achieved significant results at the end of June, 2018. This is what we mean when we say Malawi is well on track with the Free to Shine initiative.”
The First Lady said Malawian women must shine through access to adequate health services while all children must shine through provision of paediatric Aids treatment, care and support.
“You will, therefore, agree with me that Malawi has been a global leader in the elimination of MTCT as early infant diagnosis of HIV has increased from 20 percent in 2015 to about 71 percent in 2018,” she said.
In her remarks, United Nations (UN) resident representative Maria Jose Torres Macho hailed Malawi for making impressive strides towards achieving the 90:90:90 targets.
“By June this year, the results were 91 percent for those that had been tested and 80 percent of those tested were on treatment. As United Nations, we believe the Free to Shine initiative is key to fostering an Aids-free nation,” she said.
On his part, Minister of Health Atupele Muluzi said government is committed to achieving the universal health coverage where the essential health package remains free for all.
During the event, Mutharika also launched two documents, namely Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH) Joint Review Synthesis Report and Start Free, Stay Free and Aids Free Framework. n