The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) says that 6, 000 newborns in Kaduna state are at risk of contracting HIV in 2019 if elimination of Mother-To-Child Transmission of HIV interventions are not implemented.
Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Kaduna, Dr. Zakari Adam, made the assertion at a one-day meeting organized for the wives of local government chairmen in the state to give feedback on the level of implementation of 2018 strategies to end transmission of the HIV virus from mother-to-child in Kaduna on Monday.
Adam said that Kaduna state was one of the four states in the country being supported by UNICEF to pilot the elimination of Mother-To-Child Transmission of HIV by 2020 and end adolescent AIDS epidemic by 2030.
He said that though the state had recorded an increase in the coverage from 16 per cent in 2012 to 66 per cent in 2017, it was still challenged by low ante-natal care attendance and hospital delivery.
Equally, he also said the state was battling with low awareness about the benefits of eMTCT and inadequate human resources for quality health services, insisting that “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 taking proactive measures to tackle them.”
A resource person at the meeting, Malam Lawal Abubakar, said that inadequate funding 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 ante-natal care facilities were provided with eMTCT services and only 66 per cent of HIV pregnant women were placed on treatment,” Abubakar added.
The Kaduna state Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr. Paul Dogo, said that the state had achieved a giant stride in reducing the prevalence of HIV in the state.
He said that HIV prevalence had reduced from 11.6 per cent in 1999 to 1.1 per cent in 2018, adding that the state had moved from prevention of mother to child transition of HIV to elimination.
Dogo said that the state government had taken all necessary measures to ensure attainment of zero mother to child transmission by 2020.