By Zainab Garba
The United Nations has disclosed that no fewer than 22,000 Nigerian children get infected with HIV annually.
The UN system made the statement on Tuesday, at the National dialogue meeting for the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV in Nigeria otherwise known as vertical transmission of HIV.
Speaking on behalf of the UN was Mr Claes Johansson, Chief of management for results, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), who described the meeting as a crucial one for Nigeria to continue onward dialogue on what can be done and the ways of eliminating the vertical transmission of HIV.
”We are working within a frame work to map out a strategy that we will work with for the next five years along with Nigeria.
”Ending the vertical transmission of HIV AIDS is one of the key actions that will also help end pandemics, which is what the global world is looking forward to.
”However, we have so much to do and a long way to go, especially with the mother-to-child-transmission (PMTCT) taking about 32% and one out of seven being infected on a monthly basis is a Nigerian with about 22, 000 infected yearly.
”This is a situation that is simply not acceptable and for all these children who get infected about two third of them do not get treatment.
”So, we in the global community want the Nigerian government to tell us what their sustainable strategic plans are and what they need to eliminate vertical transmission. The UN and its affiliated agencies and bodies are always willing to help Nigeria put an end to PMTCT.
”Let us know your priorities, so that we can assist and help map out strong, sustainable ways to eliminating vertical transmission,” Johansson said.
Emphasising the need for a better strategy, the NACA Director General, Dr Gambo Aliyu, said that it was more of the strategy not working rather than the PMTCT.
He explained that in 2016, there were about 13,000 infected pregnant mothers that were not getting treatment, which had risen to 421,000 as at 2019.
Aliyu attributed the rise to the fact that many pregnant women were not visiting health facilities, adding that as part of the strategies to be discussed at the dialogue was how to get the facilities to the women, if they were not willing to come to the facilities.
Dr Betta Edu, Cross River’s Commissioner for health, who spoke on behalf of health commissioners of all the 36 states of the federation, said that it was equally important to work alongside other HIV related organisations and societies in order to make the PMTCT a success. (NAN)