By; ALEX UANGBAOJE Kaduna
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has revealed that about 6,000 newborn babies in Kaduna State are at the risk of getting infected by HIV in 2019.
Dr. Adam Zakari, UNICEF Chief of Field Office, Kaduna, made the revelation in Kaduna on Monday at a “one day Feedback meeting with the Wife of Kaduna State Governor and Spouses of Local Government Chairmen/Chairpersons on level of Kaduna Implementation of 2018 Demand Creation activities for the Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV in Kaduna State.”
Dr Zakari, said, though Kaduna has recorded a lots of achievement of consistent increase in Prevention to Mother Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV, coverage from 16% in 2012 to 66% in 2017, however, HIV in children has become a critical health problem undermining the positive impact of child survival intervention efforts of the state.
“This increase is as result of joint evidence-based planning and coordinated implementation of home grown LGA specific strategies and interventions across the state.
“However, there are about 6,000 babies at risk of getting HIV infected this year in Kaduna State if appropriate and innovative PMTCT interventions are not implemented. It is there evident that transmission of HIV in children has become a critical health problem undermining the positive impact of child survival intervention efforts of the state.” Explained.
He noted that Kaduna State is one of the four states in the country being supported by UNICEF to pilot elimination of Mother to Child Transmission (eMTCT) of HIV by 2020 and end adolescent AIDs epidemic by 2030.
He also said the state is still challenged by low Antenatal Care (ANC) attendance and hospital delivery and is equally battling with low awareness about the benefits of eMTCT and inadequate human resources for quality health services.
“Currently, there are 6,000 babies at a risk of getting HIV infection in 2019 if appropriate and innovative eMTCT interventions are not fully implemented.
“This meeting, therefore, provides an opportunity to lay bare all the eMTCT challenges with a view to take proactive measures to tackle them,” he said.
He express happiness over the way the wives of LGA chairmen are committed in their resolve to help in eliminating HIV in the State.
Earlier in his remark, the state Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr Paul Dogo, said that the state has achieved a giant stride in reducing the prevalence of HIV in the state.
Dogo explained that HIV prevalence has reduced from 11.6 per cent in 1999 to 1.1 per cent in 2018 adding that the state has moved from prevention of mother to child transition of HIV to elimination.
He stressed that the government has put all necessary measures to ensure that attainment of zero mother to child transmission by 2020.
“To achieve this, the state government had in 2012 establish 126 eMTCT sites and currently we have 927 eMTCT sites.
“All we need is increase demand for such services, which is where the wives of the local government chairmen come in.
“We need you to support the wife of the governor to create the needed awareness and enlightenment to our mothers in all LGAs to demand for HIV services which are readily available in health centres,” he said.
The commissioner commended UNICEF and other development partners for supporting the state in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
He, however, noted that partners funding was decreasing, stressing the need to increase domestic funding for HIV intervention to sustain the progress so far achieved.
On his part, a resource person at the meeting, Malam Lawal Abubakar, said that inadequate finding was grossly affecting eMTCT activities in the state, leading to inadequate test kits and other HIV commodities in eMTCT facilities.
“There was also weak linkage of pregnant women tested HIV positive from health facilities to HIV treatment.
“As at 2017, 56 per cent of antenatal care facilities were provided with eMTCT service and only 66 per cent of HIV pregnant women were placed on treatment,” Abubakar added.
Wife of Kaduna State Governor, Hajiya Ummi El-Rufai, appealed to the wives of the LG chairmen to redouble their effort toward ensuring that no child is infected with HIV.
“Take this as a personnel responsibility in ensuring that all pregnant women in your domain are enlighten on the benefits of eMTCT, attends ANC and demand for HIV services.
“This is the only way we will continue to make progress toward achieving zero new infections of HIV among newborn in Kaduna state,” he said
Dr Marc Anthony, Executive Secretary, Kaduna State Agency for the Control of Aids, expressed optimism that the state would achieve zero new infection of HIV among newborn by 2020.
“But to achieve this target, pregnant mothers in the state must be tested and provided with access to quality HIV services at zero cost,” he said.
The wives of the LGA chairmen reiterates commitment towards ensuring that no woman is left behind in the demanding for eMTCT services in their various LGAs.
They said during their presentation of the implementation of the 2018 LGA eMTCT plan, that they would continue to mobilise pregnant women to go for ANC and demand of HIV services.
The wife of Zaria Local Government Chairman, Mrs Amina Bamali particularly said she had visited 13 out of the 16 Primary Health Care centres in the LGA, adding that the turnout of women for ANC was very encouraging.
Bamali, however, disclosed that some few of the facilities do not have HIV test kits and called on the state government to ensure that all PHCs have adequate test kits so that no woman would be left behind.