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Federal government seeks wider coverage of PMTCT programme of HIV services

The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole had called for concerted efforts to increase the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) services coverage in the country.

Speaking at the dissemination of the PMTCT Cascade Evaluation in Abuja the minister decried the low PMTCT coverage in the country.

He said with more than a decade of the HIV programme in Nigeria, thousands of patients have been enrolled into treatment, care and related services in health facilities.

Adewole noted that with the scale up of the PMTCT services in the country, there are currently about 6,283 Health facilities offering PMTCT services adding that despite this increase, overall PMTCT coverage remains low at 30 per cent and according to the World Health Organization,” he said.

According to the Minister, findings from this study will help in highlighting some of the possible gaps and possible points of attritions in the National PMTCT programme

which may have a synergistic effect in increasing the risk of vertical transmission and hence the urgent need to address some of these key challenges for the country to transition from prevention to elimination of mother-to-child transmission.

“It was based on the above envisaged gaps that the PMTCT Cascade Evaluation study was commissioned with the following objectives; to estimate the uptake of HIV testing and use of ARVs to reduce mother-to-child transmission;

to estimate the proportion of HIV exposed infants who received nevirapine within 72 hours of birth, had EID done within 12 months and had a final outcome documented at 18 months and to identify risk factors associated with attrition along the PMTCT cascade,” he added.

On his part, Lead Advisor, HIV/AIDS Programme, at African Epidemiology Network (AFENET), Dr. Adebobola Bashorun, highlighted some of their findings.

“One of the key goals is to stop the transmission from mother to child and if we stop the transmission we are sure that the next generation s HIV free.

The main focus is to have a negative child. We can’t have a mother with HIV and she end up transmitting it to the child.
Our finding shows that a woman that comes for antenatal is not high enough.

We find out those women that come for antenatal that accept this testing is up to 90 per cent. And those who are tested positive usually come for treatment. The main important thing is to accept the coverage of PMTCT programme.”

In addition, the Deputy Director, NASCP, Ministry of Health, Dr. Deborah Oboh said the aim eliminate the menace in the country.

“This programme started in mid ninety and unfortunately Nigeria constitutes high numbers are born negative.

So, we have been working a long time to try to make a difference so that we can reduce the number of babies who are born positive. And so far in line with Global goal is to eliminate the mother to child born transmission.”

Mother-to-child transmission of HIV is the spread of HIV from an HIV-infected woman to her child during pregnancy, childbirth (also called labour and delivery), or breastfeeding (through breast milk).

Mother-to-child transmission is the most common way that children become infected with HIV. Pregnant women with HIV receive HIV medicines during pregnancy and childbirth to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

In some situations, a woman with HIV may have a scheduled cesarean delivery (sometimes called a C-section) to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV during delivery.

Pregnant women who test HIV positive receive HIV medicines to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and to protect their own health. (HIV medicines are recommended for everyone infected with HIV. HIV medicines help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives and reduce the risk of sexual transmission of HIV.)

Young women face multiple legal, economic, and social vulnerabilities that interact to affect their sexual behaviours, decisions, and circumstances, making them more susceptible to acquiring new HIV infections.

A number of studies have found that young people are less likely to take an HIV test and that those who are HIV infected have poorer HIV treatment uptake, retention, and outcomes than adults.

Less is known about adolescent uptake of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV services, where new HIV infections, low HIV testing uptake, and poor initiation of and retention on treatment are significant barriers to elimination of HIV infection in children.

UNICEF support
UNICEF has played a critical leadership role in setting the global PMTCT agenda, in scaling up national PMTCT programmes in resource-limited settings. Areas of support included:
• policy,
• guideline and tool-development,
• capacity development (including development of the skills of service providers),
• promotion of methods to expand access to HIV testing and counselling,
• efficient procurement of ARVs and other essential commodities, and
• monitoring and evaluating progress.

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