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How investments in HIV save children in Nigeria, by UNICEF

By Njadvara Musa (Maiduguri) and Charles Akpeji (Jalingo)
02 December 2021   |   4:06 am
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has stressed the need for increased investments and sustenance in HIV to ensure that children are born free and safe from their childhood to adolescence and beyond.

PHOTO: Edward Echwalu/Reuters

Minister lauds Ishaku, Danjuma for commitment to healthcare in Taraba
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has stressed the need for increased investments and sustenance in HIV to ensure that children are born free and safe from their childhood to adolescence and beyond.

UNICEF’s Country Representative, Peter Hawkins, who stated this yesterday during the commemoration of this year’s World AIDs Day in Maiduguri, Borno State, disclosed that over 130,000 children were currently living with HIV in Nigeria.

He lamented that another 120,000 children died from AIDS-related issues during the same period, translating to one child in every five minutes.

“This is a shared responsibility and as such, the HIV response must be increasingly integrated into all ongoing sector plans to save children’s lives. Also, COVID-19 response presents an opportunity for Nigeria to take big strides with strategic health system-wide investments for the benefit of children and teenagers.

“That must include meaningful engagement with affected communities and the most vulnerable persons in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps and host communities,” he noted.

He pointed out that the latest HIV and AIDS Global Snapshot also warned that a prolonged COVID-19 pandemic was deepening the inequalities that had long driven the HIV epidemic.

Hawkins lamented that the HIV epidemic had put vulnerable children, youths, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers at increased risk of missing life-saving HIV prevention and treatment services.

Executive Director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore, said rising poverty, mental health issues and abuses were increasing the risk of infection among children and women, adding that more children were infected with HIV by losing their fight against AIDS.

She said two in five children living with HIV globally do not know their status, while over 50 per cent of children with HIV were on antiretroviral treatment (ART).

MEANWHILE, Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has commended the Taraba State Government’s decision to complement the T. Y. Danjuma Foundation in improving infant and maternal survival rate by providing healthcare that make child delivery safer in the state.

Ehanire, who gave the commendation yesterday in Takum Council of the state, while commissioning the Kuru Danjuma Hospital for children, said the Federal Ministry of Health, had resolved to partner with the state government and the foundation to provide quality of healthcare delivery services.

Responding, Danjuma, who had earlier established a maternity hospital in the council, urged all good-spirited individuals to help improve access to quality and affordable healthcare for mothers and children across the country.

Earlier, Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku, who also restated his administration’s commitment to improving the health sector, enjoined the people to take advantage of the hospital to address the health challenges facing mothers and children in the state.