1 in 7 Nigerian kids have HIV – stakeholders

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By Akpan David, Calabar

Key stakeholders in the health sector have raised the alarm that every Nigerian child in every seven is HIV positive.

They met in Abuja over the weekend to deliberate on viable ways to reduce the transmission of HIV AIDS from mother to child.

The stakeholders stressed that there is urgent need to achieve HIV epidemic control.

The chairman of all health commissioners for health in the country who spoke on behalf of her colleagues, Dr Betta Edu at the National Dialogue to end mother to Child transmission of HIV in Nigeria, stressed on the need to achieve Epidemic Control and bring transmission to zero!

Edu who is also the commissioner for health in Cross River State said, “One of every 7 children infected in the world is in Nigeria and 2/3 will not receive treatment.

“90% of HIV new cases are from to mother to child transmission of HIV. This is so because of the low delivery by skilled birth attendants which is about 43%.

“In about eight million pregnancies in a year, six million do not use Antenatal Care Services or deliver with skilled birth attendants this has made the number of babies born with HIV to be on the increase.

Edu said said there is need for a wholistic approach of health system strengthening, domestic resources mobilization to improve health programs at state level.

She advocated the need for health workers to go into communities to search for pregnant women and work with the community leaders to ensure they attend ante natal care and also deliver in health facilities.

Edu also wanted a situation where HIV testing is done in communities and the right information are provided to guide the local women, urging authorities to back with technical inputs.

“The Federal Ministry of Health and NACA should send technical supports to state ministry of Health and SACA. Timely release of the Basic Health Care Provosion fund will strengthen health care deliver at Primary Health level while supporting decentralization of PMTCT services.

“We must integrate PMTCT services into other reproductive and safe Motherhood services everywhere in Nigeria.

Minister of Health, Dr Osagie called on health workers to improve in identification of HIV positive mothers and infants at facility and community levels.

He appealed to mothers to use health facilities during Antenatal care and delivery while improving on data management to help the country drive policy and make timely decisions.

The minister of state for Health, Sen Mamora called for improvement of Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV services across the country to help tackle this menace.

The Directtoe general of NACA said Nigeria is the biggest contributor to pediatric HIV and death.

He said there is need to bring transmission to zero and all stakeholders must work towards same.

Others who spoke were Development partners who have committed to work with Federal Government and states to achieve HIV epidemic control and bring the mother to child transmission rate down to zero.

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