The Federal Government has expressed commitment to eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV in the country.
The Deputy Director and Head of Treatment, Care and Support, National AIDS/STIs Control Programme, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Clement Adesigbin, made this known at the 2nd scientific roundtable series organised by the Centre for Integrated Health Programmes in Abuja.
The programme was themed ‘Leaving no one behind: Innovative programme recalibration, integration and the role of big data in reaching sub-population for HIV epidemic control.’
According to Adesigbin, Nigeria has done well in HIV response.
“We are so happy that in those days, you will see many clients coming with AIDS but these days, that is not the case again, so we have done so well.
“Look at the prevalence of HIV in Nigeria now it is 1.3 percent, so it is so hard to even find these cases out of 200 million people, and that is why you need a lot of innovation.
“For paediatrics that we are discussing, that is part of our priorities. We are not doing so well and that is the common thing when you look at it globally, paediatrics is usually an issue.
“Some countries have done so well in terms of eliminating mother-to-child transmission and Rwanda is a case for example. Nigeria is not doing that so well. But these days, we are putting all our efforts to make sure that that should not happen, no child should be infected again and except you close that gap, you will continue to have paediatric cases.
“So if we can really close the leaking gap, in terms of PMTCT, then we have little to do with in terms of paediatric cases,” Adesigbin said.
Also speaking, the Chief Executive Officer of Centre for Integrated Health Programmes, Dr. Bolanle Oyelodun said the organisation is working with the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief through the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention to address HIV challenges in the country.
Oyelodun said, “We are implementing programmes with support from the US government, through PEPFAR, we are working with private organisations and foundations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the MTN Foundation, with funding from the World Health Organisation, the Canadian government and the Gates Challenge Exploration.
“We are partners with the Federal Government and the state government including the ministries of health and the states and national AIDS control agencies.
“What we primarily do is to support and ensure that treatment, as the prevention is put in place mostly through the government health facilities and also working through private health facilities.”
On her part, the WHO Representative, Dr. Oluwafunke Ilesanmi, Technical Officer, HIV/Viral Hepatitis, World Health Organisation urged stakeholders to support the government in the fight against HIV.
“We will like to identify with the keywords of the theme, innovation, integration, data and ensuring we leave no one behind. This is the time to actually ponder on these things and we hope that it won’t just end there but our discussion here is actually going to influence policies and also ensure that implementation is actually done the way we think it should moving forward.
“We continue to charge all stakeholders to continue to support the government of Nigeria and it is not only for an individual, it is not only for government but for all stakeholders including the people living with HIV,” Ilesanmi said.