• Saturday, May 18, 2024
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Nigeria accounts for one third new HIV cases in children, says expert

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Dr Abiola Davies, a UNICEF HIV Specialist, on Thursday said Nigeria accounted for one third of new HIV infection cases among children in the world.

Davies disclosed this in Lagos while speaking at the opening of two-day review meeting of Journalist Alliance for Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission in Nigeria (JAPiN), an NGO.

The meeting is also part of activities marking the 10th year anniversary of the organisation.

She said: ‘Nigeria is among countries with slow mother to child transmission decline, it is still responsible for one third of the new HIV infections among children.

“The country needed urgent action to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) target even if it is move to 202020.’’

Davies said infant infection rate has not changed much since 2009, saying the country must improve on ownership and coordination at the state level.

She called for the decentralisation of Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV services to the Primary Health Centres (PHCs).

Davies also called for increased involvement of the organised private sector and private health facilities in the fight against HIV infection.

She attributed some of the PMTCT challenges to lack of access to PHCs by pregnant women and non-availability of health workers.

Davies said that the government should mobilise and educate women on mother-to- child HIV transmission prevention strategies.

Mr Sola Ogundipe, the National Coordinator of JAPiN, expressed the hope that the group’s advocacy role would further boost efforts to articulate a sustainable PMTCT policy for Nigeria.

Ogundipe stressed the need to sustain existing HIV programmes as donor agencies were increasing withdrawing their sponsorships.

He said the reportage on PMTCT has increased in Nigeria, but still urged the media to do more human angle stories on prevention of new infections in children.

Ogundipe said the meeting would also build on the existing collaboration between the UNICEF and key media personnel.

“We will explore new frontiers of effective communication as a crucial component of the national response to the growing challenge of HIV transmission through the mother to child route,’’ he said.

(NAN)