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Minister seeks increased measures in mother to child transmission of HIV prevention

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The Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, has called for concerted efforts to increase the Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) services coverage in the country. Speaking at the dissemination of the PMTCT cascade evaluation in Abuja, the minister decried the low PMTCT coverage in the country, noting that with over a decade of the HIV programme in Nigeria, thousands of patients have been enrolled into treatment, care and related services in health facilities.

He said with the scale up of the services in the country, there are currently about 6,283 health facilities offering PMTCT services, bemoaning that despite this increase, overall PMTCT coverage remains low at 30 per cent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Adewole, who was represented by the National Coordinator, AIDS and Sexual Transmitted Disease Control Programme, Dr. Sunday Aboje, stated that the findings from the study would help in highlighting some of the possible gaps and possible points of attritions in the national PMTCT programme, which may have a synergistic effect in increasing the risk of vertical transmission; hence the urgent need to address some of these key challenges for the country to transition from prevention to elimination of mother-to-child transmission.

According to the Lead Advisor, HIV/AIDS Programme at African Epidemiology Network (AFENET), Dr. Adebobola Bashorun: “One of the key goals is to stop the transmission and if we stop the transmission, we are sure that the next generation would be HIV-free.

“The main focus is to have a negative child. We can’t have a mother with HIV and she end up transmitting it to the child.” Deputy Director, NASCP, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Deborah Oboh, said: “We have been working a long time to try to make a difference, so that we can reduce the number of babies born positive.”

Meanwhile, the United Nations (UN) Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, has announced that $2 million (N720 million) has been set aside to support the
responses to outbreaks of cholera in Yobe and Adamawa states since March 28, with over 400 and 27 deaths reported.

Kallon, in a statement released yesterday in Abuja, also disclosed that the reported cases represent 3.7 per cent fatality rate in the northeast, adding that the UN and its partners activated an immediate emergency response in the affected communities in support of the states’ Ministry of Health.Kallon also declared that additional resources are needed to ensure containment of the outbreak, warning of the possibility of a high risk of cholera outbreaks with increased water-borne diseases as the rainy season sets in.

According to him, the funds would enable humanitarian partners to provide safe water to over 1.6 million people and improvements in sanitation for thousands in the affected communities of Gashua (Yobe) and Mubi (Adamawa). Kallon in the statement explained: “The earmarked $2 million will boost the technical and human resource capacity in hot spot areas, so that cholera can be detected early and treated promptly.

“Raising awareness of how to identify, prevent and treat cholera is also a key part of the response to the outbreak.”“Cholera outbreaks can potentially impact and kill thousands of people, especially women, children and men, who are living
in overcrowded places, such as camps for IDPs.”

Surveillance and early detection, according to him, are keys to limiting the number of fatalities and spread of the outbreaks, noting that the funds would help the UN and partners strengthen the capacity of community health personnel and equip local health facilities with diagnostic and treatment equipment.He feared that as the rainy season commences, flooding might impact access to some of the affected localities.


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HIVIsaac Adewole
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