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How donors are helping prevent HIV infections in babies

POSTED February 28, 2019

How donors are helping prevent HIV infections in babies

A project is giving mothers the information they need to protect their unborn babies

By Semereta Sewasew, communications manager, Ethiopia

Halima Son Midwife

Halima, a 28-year-old mother-of-three, was five months pregnant when she visited the Chereti Health Center in Ethiopia for her HIV test.

She was encouraged to go to the centre by health professionals, who were trained by Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC), to communicate the importance of the test to pregnant mothers and those planning to have children.

Halima lives in a small town, where CCFC is implementing the Canada-Africa Initiative to Address Maternal, Newborn and Child Mortality (CAIA-MNCM) project. Supported by the Government of Canada, the initiative focuses on reducing maternal, neonatal and child mortality.

CCFC helped train health workers and equip the health centre Halima visited. The goal was to provide HIV pre-test counselling and testing to reduce HIV transmission from pregnant women to their babies.

The test was a pivotal moment in Halima’s pregnancy. She was surprised to hear her HIV test results were positive. “Finding this out was the hardest and most desperate moment for me,” she tells us. “I cried a lot — could not sleep for three-consecutive days. I thought I would die soon and my children would be orphaned.”

Halima Son Midwife

But, Zebiba, a midwife at the centre, helped her patient understand that if she followed prescribed anti-retroviral therapy she would reduce the risk of passing the virus on to her baby. “I learned to live [with the virus] and became stronger. I gave birth at the facility and got very satisfactory health services. My son, Hamza, tested for HIV twice — at 45 days and 18 months. He is HIV-free.”

Zebiba was one of 147 health professionals — including 63 midwives, 29 health officers and 54 nurses — trained in preventing the transmission of HIV through the CAIA-MNCM initiative.

She coached and provided care for Halima throughout her pregnancy and afterward. That meant testing mom and baby for HIV and putting them on medication while also counselling on feeding practices.

Halima is grateful. “I thank God my child is HIV-free. I now take very good care of my children and myself,” she adds.

Help support new moms in rural Ethiopia get the care they deserve. Learn how.

Check back for more success stories about CAIA-MNCM, which runs until 2020.

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About Canada-Africa Initiative to Address Maternal, Newborn and Child Mortality (CAIA-MNCM):

The Canada-Africa Initiative to Address Maternal, Newborn and Child Mortality is a partnership among four Canadian organizations — Amref Health Africa, Children Believe, Centre for Global Child Health at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and WaterAid Canada. With support of $24.9 million from the Government of Canada (85 percent of the total project budget), this four-year project (2016 to 2020) aims to directly reach 1.7-million women, children and men across 20 districts in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania. The partners are working together with African communities to improve the delivery of essential health services to moms, pregnant women, newborns and children under the age of five; increase the use of these improved health services; and improve the consumption of nutritious foods and supplements.


Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60+ years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.

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