By ZACHERY PER
A SUCCESS story on HIV amidst all the gloom and doom has pleasantly taken Chief Secretary Manasupe Zurenouc by surprise.
Mr Zurenouc learnt last week that 25 babies born to HIV positive mothers were tested negative after a very successful parental maternal child transmission programme at Mingende Rural Hospital in Simbu province.
Staff at St Joseph’s Mingende Rural Hospital said after close screening and monitoring of pregnant mothers who were tested positive, the result was excellent: 25 babies who tested negative.
Apart from this successful initiative, the hospital also provides voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) clinic.
But stigma is still a problem and sister-in-charge of VCT, Sr Dominica Haiter, said locals around Mingende with AIDS sought medical help elsewhere due to stigma and discrimination.
“Locals do not normally come here for VCT clinic because of stigma and discriminations, we get a lot of patients from distant places,” she said.
She said the clinic registered a total of 300 patients and place them on anti-retroviral treatment (ART) but the number had reduced to 200 after some had died and others transferred to other clinics.
Mr Zurenouc, who was impressed with the operation of the hospital, praised the church health services for providing vital health care where the Government cannot get through.
He said churches had done a marvellous job in health and education in most rural areas of PNG, adding that what he witnessed at Mingende is one of these successes.
Mr Zurenouc urged them to continue the excellent work to serve the people and maintain good relationship with the people and the Government.
“The Government will continue to provide support and work in partnership with the churches towards delivering better services for the people,” he said.