DR Congo: Pregnant women living with HIV in Tanganyika receive nutritional support

Procedure for pregnant women living with HIV
Wednesday, March 27, 2024

By Tatiana Ballay - Communications Officer, WV DRC

Amélie, 36, gave birth to twin girls in a hospital in the town of Kalemie, in the province of Tanganyika in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Unfortunately, one of the girls died a few hours after birth. Amélie recently discovered that she is HIV positive. She experienced abdominal cramps and went to the hospital for an ultrasound scan and a blood test, where she learned about her HIV-positive status. Amélie is married to Marc, aged 47, and together they had three children before the arrival of the twins. All three children are HIV-negative. Marc is an officer in the Congolese armed forces, and Amélie contributes to her family's needs by running a business and offering hairdressing services.

"When the nurse told me that I had tested positive for HIV, I was shocked. She also told me that I would receive free medical care," says Amélie, 36. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, almost 50% of HIV-positive children die before the age of two.

Nutritional Support for People Living with HIV and Tuberculosis

World Vision DRC, supported by the World Food Programme (WFP), plans to provide nutritional support to 6,666 people, including 100 HIV-positive pregnant women, as part of the program to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT).

Since February 2024, the project for the prevention and treatment of moderate acute malnutrition has been running in Tanganyika province in the DRC, benefiting children aged between 6 and 59 months, people living with HIV, and people affected by tuberculosis. The project will run for 10 months, and 14% of the coverage areas have already been reached since its launch. The project is being implemented in four health zones (Kalemie, Nyemba, Moba, and Kansimba) in two territories of Tanganyika province, namely Kalemie and Moba, reaching a total of 51 health areas.

The project aims to reach 39,707 beneficiaries and distribute 651.407 Mt of inputs consisting of Plumpy'Sup and Plumpy'Doz and CSB++ (Super cereals - Corn soya blend). During February 2024, 16.925 Mt of inputs were received and distributed.

"In my department, since 2021, we have been following 384 people with HIV, most of them couples. In the case of Amélie, her husband is not yet aware of the situation, but a meeting has been organized to explain the reasons for his daughter's death. The nutritional support given to pregnant women is a great help to us, and we are very concerned about the nutritional status of many women and other mothers-to-be living with HIV at the end of this project," explains Rose, head of the gynecology and obstetrics department at the hospital where Amélie gave birth.

"Good nutrition for people living with HIV during pregnancy and breastfeeding improves the outcome of the pregnancy and the prognosis of the child because a good diet keeps the body healthy. By helping people living with HIV and tuberculosis, we are showing our love for vulnerable people," says Josué Kianzale, Specialist II-N, Health, World Vision DRC.

World Vision in the Democratic Republic of Congo has received $260,439 from the World Food Programme as part of a project to strengthen the national response to HIV and tuberculosis. This funding aims to improve the nutritional status of 18,784 acutely (moderately) malnourished children aged between 6 and 59 months, as well as 6,666 malnourished people living with HIV (PLHIV) and 3,213 people undergoing treatment for tuberculosis (ARV and TB), with a particular focus on pregnant women.

"We have been able to identify 20 births of HIV-infected children since February 2024," concludes Rose.