Key health sector stakeholders met in Abuja to discuss workable ways to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV-AIDS. There is an urgent need in Nigeria to bring the HIV epidemic under control. One in 7 infected children worldwide is in Nigeria and 2/3 are not treated. 90% of new HIV cases are due to mother-to-child transmission of HIV. This is due to the low birth rate by qualified obstetricians, which is around 43%. In approximately 8 million pregnancies per year, 6 million do not use maternity care services or give birth with qualified obstetricians, which has resulted in an increase in the number of babies born with HIV.
In his speech at the event, the honorable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie urged health workers to improve identification of HIV-positive mothers and infants at the facility and community level. He appealed to mothers to use health facilities during the ANC and delivery while improving data management to help the country advance policy and make timely decisions. Health Minister Sen Mamora has called for improved mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) prevention services across the country to address this threat. DG NACA said Nigeria is the biggest contributor to HIV and child deaths, he said there is a need to zero transmission and everyone involved needs to work towards it.
The National Chair of the Nigeria Health Commissioners Forum Dr. Betta Edu, who represented all commissioners at the meeting, said a holistic approach to strengthening the health system and mobilizing domestic resources was needed to improve PMCTC programs at the state level, while the national strategy diverged from the establishment of community-based finding and care. Have health workers go to the community to look for pregnant women and work with community leaders to ensure that prenatal care and delivery in health facilities are in place. Providing HIV testing in communities and the right information to guide them. Ensure lifelong access to HIV treatment for HIV-positive mothers, including during pregnancy. The Federal Ministry of Health and the NACA should send technical support to the State Ministry of Health and the SACA. The timely release of the Primary Care Fund will strengthen health care at the primary health care level while supporting the decentralization of PMTCT services. We need to integrate PMTCT services with other reproductive and safe maternity services across Nigeria.
Others who spoke were development partners committed to working with the federal government and states to contain the HIV epidemic and reduce mother-to-child transmission rates to zero.
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