50,000 babies born with HIV infection in Nigeria – UNAIDS

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50,000 babies born with HIV infection in Nigeria – UNAIDS

By; Sunday Ode, Abuja.

No few than 50,000 babies were born in Nigeria annually with HIV infection, Executive Director United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS, Mr. Michel Sidibe revealed at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

And to counter this, the Buhari administration said it will put in place effective Primary Healthcare Centres across the country, in collaborating with international agencies to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the country to enhance access to healthcare.

These indications were given by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo,  while receiving a delegation of the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS, led by Mr Sidibe at the Presidential Villa.

Osinbajo’s declaration came as Sidibe disclosed that no few than 500 babies were born in Nigeria annually with HIV infection.

According to the Vice President, access to healthcare is “a poverty issue, we must put it in that perspective.”

He explained that it was for the same reasons that the Buhari administration put the “half a trillion Naira in the 2016 budget, the largest single budgetary item of any government ever on social investments programmes” that addresses poverty.

A statement from the media office of the Vice President said Osinbajo was referring to the six social investment plans of the Buhari presidency which are:

*Creation of 500,000 teaching jobs for unemployed graduates.

*370,000 youths to be taken through vocational training and skills acquisition and would be paid while doing so.

*Conditional Cash Transfer programme where one million extremely poor Nigerians would be paid N5000 per month in 2016.

*Homegrown School Feeding programme where the federal government provides one-meal-a-day to primary school pupils across the country.

*Free Education for tertiary education students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

*A one-time N60, 000 loan to market women, artisans and traders through a Micro Credit scheme using the Bank of Industry.

Quoting the Vice President, the statement said all the programmes had been provided for in the 2016 budget and they were means of reducing poverty and vulnerabilities.

Osinbajo stated that access to treatment by patients of HIV/AIDS as in other diseases was an equality issue “because the vast majority of people who need help are those who can’t afford it,” the statement noted.

He said the federal government would ramp up funding for healthcare in the country and work with the UN to eliminate Mother-to-Child transmission of HIV/AIDS, expanding treatment for patients and spurring local manufacture of the Anti Retroviral Drugs, the three major issues the UNAIDS Director tabled before him at the meeting, according to the statement.

Sidibe said there was a good opportunity for Nigeria, the second largest HIV endemic country in the world to beat the disease, the statement noted.

He said already there was a decline in new HIV infections in the country and that about 800,000 people in the country were undergoing treatment.

The statement also quoted him as saying that ending HIV infection in Nigeria would send a positive message across the world.

But he noted that there are still 50,000 babies born yearly in the country with HIV infection, a situation he noted “is unnecessary.”

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