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Nigeria committed to global drive on eliminating mother-to-child HIV transmission, says FG

By Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze (Abuja) and Anietie Akpan (Calabar)
14 October 2021   |   4:10 am
The Federal Government has expressed commitment to global drive to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and ensure zero new infections by 2025.

[FILES] A doctor draws blood from a man to check for HIV/AIDS at a mobile testing unit PHOTO: Edward Echwalu/Reuters

• 63% of positive women unable to access HIV care services
• Nation records 22,000 new infections among children in 2020
• Ex-oil firm boss decries decay, brain drain in health sector

The Federal Government has expressed commitment to global drive to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and ensure zero new infections by 2025.

This came as statistics show that only 27 per cent of HIV positive pregnant women are able to access Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT) services, while 63 per cent are unable to do so.

According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Nigeria contributes 22,000 new infections among children every year.

National Lead for PMTCT, Dr Gbenga Ijaodola, stated this at a media dialogue organised by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in collaboration with the Child Rights Information Bureau of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, and Journalists’ Alliance for Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission of HIV and AIDS (JAPiN).

He lamented that Nigeria still has low paediatric HIV case identification as well as poor linkage to care and treatment for children living with HIV.

Ijaodola, who decried low uptake of antenatal care services and low antiretroviral therapy coverage for positive pregnant women, noted that PMTCT services currently reach only about a third of pregnant women in Nigeria, while many states are yet to respond to the provision of adequate funding for HIV programmes including PMTCT.

He said: “According to the National Strategic Plan (NSP), 95 per cent of all HIV positive pregnant and breastfeeding mothers receive antiretroviral therapy; 95 per cent of all HIV-exposed infants receive antiretroviral prophylaxis; 95 per cent of all HIV-exposed infants have early infant diagnosis within six to eight weeks of birth.”

He stressed the need to map out clear community strategy to reach the unreached and work with Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs), community leaders and networks of People Living with HIV.

Ijaodola also called for the implementation of state-based framework for the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS.

Meanwhile, a former Executive Vice Chairman of ExxonMobil in Nigeria, Mr. Udom Inoyo, has decried decay in Nigeria’s health sector and massive brain drain, even as he called for a multi-stakeholder approach at redeeming the system.

Inoyo, who was honoured, yesterday, by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) at the ongoing 2021 Physicians’ Week in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, for his support to the health sector during the COVID-19 pandemic, said: “As much as possible, brain drain must be minimised.”