The month of December was an intense time in Malawi. We have just marked two years since the opening of the first DREAM centre to treat people with AIDS and the activities of DREAM continue to grow rapidly.
There are two molecular biology laboratories in the country, one in Blantyre which serves the southern region of the country, and one near Lilongwe for the central region. On 14 December, a government delegation led by the deputy director of the Health Ministry, who is in charge of diagnostics, visited the laboratory of Blantyre. The deputy director praised the high quality of diagnostic services offered.
On 18 December, a mission was undertaken together with the same deputy director for diagnostics and representatives of other institutions, to visit the hospital of Mzimba, in the north of the country, a place earmarked for the location of the third molecular biology laboratory planned by the DREAM programme.
Throughout the visit, practical aspects were assessed with a view to launching construction works and the equipping of the laboratory as soon as possible. The laboratory will allow for the testing of CD4 and viral load of patients in the region.
DREAM treatment centres are also growing at a dizzy rate; apart from the three main ones, which are now operating at full capacity (Blantyre, Balaka, Mtenga Wa Ntenga and Lilongwe), several centres are opening in rural areas, to respond to the needs of 80% of the population, who live in the bush and do not have the possibility of accessing treatment. In Kapeni, in Blantyre district, a VCT (voluntary counselling and testing) centre will be activated in the coming months to offer testing to all those who want it. The DREAM centres of Kapire and Namandanje are now stable establishments for the treatment of AIDS, found in the southern region of Malawi.
A team of four workers, representing the different professional profiles, was sent from Mulibwangi Hospital of Masuku, a few kilometres from the border with Mozambique, for a month of internship at the DREAM centre of Blantyre. In January, treatment activities will start in Masuku.
In Dzoole too, in Dowa district, activities have been fully launched. The growth of this rural DREAM centre has been amazing: inaugurated in July 2007, today it has 180 patients and a week ago, the first test was taken for a child born on the programme of vertical prevention.
The mother had started to be treated at Mtenga Wa Ntenga, but it was very difficult for her to reach the centre. So the opening of a more easily accessible service was a blessing and last week, there was great celebration for Patricia, her daughter, who has become a symbol of hope for this area inhabited by more than 25,000 people.
Mtenga: Party for two 18-month-old babies who were born negative to HIV-positive mothers
In Mtendere, Dedza District, the construction of a new DREAM centre is proceeding rapidly.
Mtendere: the new DREAM centre under construction
Last month, a c