The Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Obadiah Moyo has encouraged pregnant women to book their pregnancies early so as that they can access services early.
Speaking at the Validation of Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV meeting in the capital recently, the minister said mothers who delay registering their pregnancies increase the risk of transmitting HIV from mother to child.
"Communities need to encourage pregnant mothers to book early. Once booked, they need to be tested for HIV if diagnosed positive, they should be immediately put on treatment to reduce the risk of transmission," said the Minister.
In his speech, Dr Moyo also emphasized on the need for partners to work together.
"We all need to work together, public and private sectors, donors and implementing partners to achieve these ambitious targets by 2022. There is space for all to work and contribute to elimination mother to child transmission of HIV and Syphilis," the Minister said.
Communities of women living with HIV play a critical role of peer education and support so that all women are put on early treatment and for those negative, the need to be repeatedly tested during ANC, Labour and delivery and the Post Natal Period.
All HIV Exposed infants should be offered early infant diagnosis at the earliest opportunity.
National PMTCT and Pediatric HIV Care and Treatment Coordinator, Dr Angela Mushavi said they are piloting birth testing.
"This will roll out and scale up. Early infant diagnosis for all HIV exposed infant is routinely offered from six weeks of age, with POC EID machines, many more infants can have access to early diagnosis care and treatment," Mushavi said.
The Minister also said that Syphilis treatment remains a challenge globally.
"The ministry remains committed to ensure that treatment is made available and government will work with partners to make sure that all pregnant and lactating mother have access to prompt treatment," he said.