U.S., Lagos partner on strengthening health systems, inaugurate mother to child HIV prevention initiative
As part of the United States (U.S.) government’s efforts to support a healthier population in Nigeria, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched the Community Prevention of Mother to Child HIV Transmission (cPMTCT) programme in Lagos.
Speaking at a ceremony to launch the programme in Lagos, U.S. CDC Country Director Dr. Mary Adetinuke Boyd highlighted the U.S. Mission’s goal of strengthening local health systems in Nigeria to respond to disease-related threats.
Boyd explained that there is an urgent need to reach all Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)-positive pregnant women with treatment services to prevent further transmission of the virus from mothers to children and that the services should be provided in conventional health facilities, local communities, and other unconventional settings where women seek healthcare services.
“The CDC and the U.S. Government is ready to partner with Lagos State to strengthen the health systems to respond to disease-related threats. Therefore, there is a need to continue building and sustaining structures and systems that promote sustainability,” Boyd said.
Boyd commended the state government for its forward-leaning attitude to prioritize the health of residents, specifically, the provision of HIV test kits, waiving of user fees, and release of counterpart funds all of which have been vital to supporting the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission.
She lauded the state’s COVID-19 response, high routine immunization rate, and remarkable progress in HIV treatment surge and advocated the removal of other barriers hindering people living with HIV from accessing health services.
US-CDC implementing partner, Centre for Integrated Health Programs (CIHP) is coordinating the programme, which aims to encourage mothers that are HIV positive to subscribe to HIV health services.
“The relationship between Lagos State, CDC, and its implementing partner, CIHP have been impactful. CDC will continue to support Lagos state through this partnership with the community in improving health outcomes,” she added.
The new approach, in addition to reaching pregnant women at various hospitals, involves working with community-level health centers, community-based midwives, traditional birth attendants, and other non-conventional healthcare providers. Through this initiative, important life-saving HIV services will become accessible to more pregnant women at the grassroots.
The cPMTCT programme will also incorporate enhanced documentation of HIV-positive pregnant women receiving antiretroviral treatment as part of strategies to close the current gaps in the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV.
As of June 30, 2021, more than 1.6 million Nigerians are receiving U.S.-government supported HIV treatment, as a result of a historic surge that placed 350,000 new patients on lifesaving antiretrovirals, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.