The plight of HIV Positive Mothers after being delivered of their babies has been near endemic, to say the least. It came to the fore recently again. This time, it came through Alice, 34.
After being abandoned by her husband shortly after she was diagnosed of HIV early in her pregnancy, she now faces the agony of waiting for about seven months to ascertain the fate of her little boy in terms of ascertaining his HIV status.
Six weeks after she delivered her baby boy, in accordance with procedures intended to ascertain the HIV status of the baby, Dry Blood Spot of the baby was taken for testing in neighbouring Akwa Ibom State.
The reason was that Rivers State does not have the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine used for the screening.
In addition to detecting diseases in a sample, PCR enables the monitoring of the amount of a virus present in or viral load, in a person’s body.
In diseases such as Hepatitis C or HIV infections, viral load is a good indication of how sick a person may be or how well a person’s medicine and treatment is working.
Armed with this information, physicians may determine when to commence treatment, and a person’s response to treatment, making treatment personalized to each individual.
Currently, Alice’s baby is about seven months old, and she is still expecting the results from Dry Blood Spot taken from her child.
According to her, over the past five months, she had been restless and the restlessness has developed into an agonizing trauma because as the days go by, she suspects every sign of illness in her baby to be HIV. The thought of her child being infected with HIV is thus too much for her to bear, and it has gradually taken its toll on her health.
“Since six months ago that they took sample from my baby, I’ve been waiting for the result. They initially told me to come after one month. But since that first time, I’ve been coming almost every month and the nurses are still expecting the result from where they sent the sample.
“Now, anything I see on my baby’s skin, I feel it is the result of HIV. Each time I go to ask them (Health Workers) they tell me to go home and wait for the result,” she said.
Fortunately, for Alice, at seven months her baby is not likely to come down with AIDS, according to Dr Chimezie Okeh, the Executive Director of the Rivers State Agency for the Control of AIDS (RIVSACA).
In an exclusive interview, Dr Okeh explained that as long as the child is on exclusive breast-feeding and is given Post Exposure Prophylasis, the child will still be protected from coming down with AIDS.
Explaining the implications of sending DBS samples to other states, Dr Okeh said a lot of things could happen to the samples that may make it unreliable.
“Sample storage is a problem, it can grow mold, it can go bad, so, it could give you a false result. If it gets to a laboratory where there are so many samples from different states, the samples can be mishandled, there could be confusion, mistakes on how the various samples are handled.
The implications of Dr Okeh’s explanation is that a lot could happen to a given sample, or samples. The Tide’s investigations revealed that sometimes there had been need to take another sample after the first got missing in transit.
In the case of Alice, waiting for about seven months for the result of her baby’s sample has put her in a state of uncertainty, one that had been traumatic to her and likely to put her in a state of delusion.
What may have put her in such state may not be far from ignorance, especially, given the fact that health workers did not deem it expedient to explain to her the real situation regarding the possible effect of the availability of the sample result. This may not have been the situation if the PCR machine was available in the state.
Explaining the importance of PCR machine in a somewhat lay man’s perspective, the coordinator, HIV/AIDS and STI, Rivers State Ministry of Health (RSMoH), Dr Golden Owhonda, said the PCR screening is different from the conventional test.
“When we carry out the conventional or rapid test, we are testing for the antibody. With this test, you can have false positive and false negative.
“But the PCR looks for the virus itself, not what the virus produces. So, the PCR is more accurate and predictive. As far as the PCR is concerned, if it (the virus) is there, it is there.
“We use the PCR when we want an exact diagnosis, such as in case of Mother-To-Child Transmission,” he said.
Dr Owhonda stated further that at six weeks when the baby’s blood sample is taken for test, the baby does not have its own antibodies, and that if it has any, it would be from its mother.
“So, for you to know that the baby has the virus, you must test for the presence of the virus itself. This is where we use the PCR machine. It is also how we find out if the baby has HIV acquired from its mother,” he said.
While the HIV status of the baby is important, the emphasis of this piece is the state of the mother, who is HIV positive.
Going by the fact that whatever happens to a lactating mother medically is likely to affect her baby, the state of Alice, which may be one in so many, becomes very important.
If her delusionment prompted by her imagination that her baby is suffering out of no fault of hers, as a result of which she becomes so incapacitated that it affects her already fragile health condition, one can only imagine how this condition can affect the baby.
In essence, when one reasons that there could be more women in the shoes of Alice, one can only imagine how many of such children can be found in Rivers State and other states in Nigeria that do not have the PCR machine.
It is in this context that it is most expedient for the Rivers State Government to ensure that the state gets at least one PCR machine.
As can be deciphered from the fore-going beyond fulfilling part of its social obligations to its citizenry, provision of the PCR machine will no doubt alleviate the suffering of not only the HIV positive mothers, but also that of health care providers, who carry out the sample logging and have to offer explanations regarding the delay in availability of results.
It will also eliminate problems associated with taking the samples to Uyo, such as misplacement, molding, and delay in the availability of results.
Most of all, the status of such children can be known faster and relevant precautions taken earlier when necessary, all of which will be to the development of the state and society at large.
Breast Feeding Week: RSUTH Targets Health Personnel
As part of measures to heighten the importance of breast feeding, authorities in the State owned Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH) is set to sensitise its personnel on the need to ensure that nursing mothers embrace exclusive breast feeding.
The programme forms part of the weeklong activity on breast feeding and is billed to hold tomorrow to school staffers on the health benefits and why they should support the campaign
Member of a committee set up on breast feeding, Nurse Agana Ebirien in a chat with The Tide said the hospital is breast feeding friendly and has over the years held campaigns within and outside the hospital to promote breast feeding.
She stressed the need for health workers to be ambassadors at the forefront for the quest to ensure breast feeding is highly embraced by mothers visiting the health facility.
Ebirien said this year’s theme: “Step Up Breast Feeding, Educate and Support” is aimed at raising awareness and underscoring the need for nursing mothers to exclusively breast feed their babies.
She said, “Most nursing mothers don’t want to breast feed their babies because of the myths surrounding breast feeding. Some of the myths include danger of colostrum and many others.”
Ebiriien explained that the colostrums which is the first drop of breast milk from a nursing is the richest and healthiest part of the breast milk, as it helps boost the baby’s immunity and prevents him from falling ill frequently.
The nursing expert therefore called on nursing mothers to ensure they breast feed their babies exclusively for at least six months, and then breast feed with complementary feeding upto two years.
A nurse and expert on women health, Nurse Agana Ebirien has listed the benefit of breast feeding with the call on nursing mothers to exclusively breast feed their babies for at least six months without water or glucose water.
Nurse Ebirien in an exclusive chat with The Tide said thre are huge benefits of exclusive breast feeding to help the mothers and baby health in the future
Some of the benefits she said include the boosting of the child’s immunity, and improving the child memory and intelligence.
She noted that mothers who breast feed their babies help curb obesity in their babies in the future, as she described breast milk as “ balanced diet in balanced proportion”.
For the mothers she noted that breast feeding help to heal the uterus , “ as the baby sucks the breast the uterus contract and that curbs bleeding in mothers.”
In addition, the nurse explained that mothers who breast feed their babies for a long time also reduce the occurrence of breast and ovarian cancers.
She added that breast feeding is calso economical as it saves the family from spending huge sums from buying milk and other condiments to feed the baby, and therefore called on fathers, and the menfolk in general to encourage their wives to breast feed their babies.
By: Kevin Nengia
Tiger Nuts Can Heal Urinary Infections -Study
The experts have evaluated the antioxidant vitamins (vitamins A, C and E) and antibacterial potential of tiger nut extracts against germs that cause human urinary tract infection pathogens. These are Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella pneumonia.
Many individuals, including diabetics, eat tiger nut mainly for its sweetness and for its high content of arginine, which is reported to stimulate the production of insulin. Now, in a new study, researchers have said it is a fruit that should be consumed more to prevent and treat urinary tract infections.
The susceptibility of these disease-causing germs towards the tiger nut extracts was compared with each other and with gentamicin, which was used as a positive control. All plant extracts showed antimicrobial activities against the selected microorganisms at various concentrations and the methanol extract was found to be most effective compared to ethyl acetate extract.
In addition, the antioxidant vitamin composition in the different extracts of tiger nut indicated that it contained an appreciable amount of these vitamins. However, the concentrations of these vitamins were considerably higher in the methanol extract, with Vitamin E exceeding the daily recommended intake by international standards in both extracts.
The study published in the Journal of Agroalimentary Processes and Technologies involved Imaobong E. Daniel and Etukudo Edigeal D. at the Department of Chemistry, University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, and it was to authenticate the medicinal importance of tiger nut.
Urinary tract infections (UTI) affect any part of the urinary tract which could be the kidney, ureter, bladder and urethra. The causes of UTIs include sexual intercourse with infected persons, poor hygiene, holding urine longer than necessary, underlying kidney stones, diabetes and loss of oestrogen.
All over the world, millions of people are diagnosed with urinary tract infections (UTI) every year. It is estimated that about 35 percent of healthy individuals suffer from symptoms of UTI at some stage in their lives, with incidences occurring mostly in women than men.
Culled from Tribune online.
Nursing Mothers Cautioned On Exclusive Breast Feeding
As Rivers State joins the rest of the world to observe the 2022 World Breast Feeding Week, some nursing mothers in Rivers State have cautioned their colleagues not to use poverty and hardship as an excuse against the practice of exclusive breastfeeding of their babies.
It would be recalled that some nursing mothers have cited poverty as factor responsible to practice exclusive breastfeeding of their babies.
Speaking, a mother of three from Okrika, Mrs Patience Owiriwa, said mothers have no excuse not to practice exclusive breastfeeding.
“I advise that as a mother, if you don’t have anything to feed a child, go for breast milk, even if it is little fish you buy to cook.
“That money you use for milk, use it to buy ‘Sungu’ and any good cooking things.
“If you buy N500 fish, you can cook soup that will carry you. When you are eating well, your baby is eating well too”, she said.
Owiriwa said exclusive breast milk prevents children from reacting to unnecessary sicknesses.
“He will be very OK. With breast milk, every vitamin is inside that breast milk; so, even if you feed him with only breast milk, he is good to go”.
Another respondent, Mrs Nnenna Amadi from Ikwerre Local Government Area said, “when you breast feed a child well, you find out that the baby will be OK.
“Moreover, when you do exclusive breastfeeding, the child will not be sick, he will be healthy and plump.
“The breast milk will make the child very sharp”, she said.
This year’s World Breastfeeding Week is from August 1 to 7, 2022.
The theme for this year’s event is: ‘Step Up For Breastfeeding: Educate and Support’.
It would be recalled that the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) had recommended that children be initiated to breastfeeding the first hour of birth and exclusively breastfed the first six months of life.
However, some nursing mothers, who spoke on the celebration in an interview said, poverty was hampering their effort to exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months of birth.
Accordingly, Esther Alaka, a nursing mother said, “you must eat well before you can give your babies breast.
By: John Bibor & Oribim Ibama
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