UNICEF: 22,000 Nigerian Children Infected With HIV Annually
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says about 22,000 Nigerian children get infected with HIV annually.Advertisement
Claes Johansson, UNICEF’s chief of management for results, said about two-thirds of the infected children do not get treatment.
Johansson spoke on Tuesday at the national dialogue meeting for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV in Nigeria.
He described the meeting as a crucial one for Nigeria to discuss ways of eliminating vertical transmission of HIV — also known as mother-to-child transmission.Advertisement
“We are working within a framework to map out a strategy that we will work with for the next five years along with Nigeria,” he said.
“Ending the vertical transmission of HIV/AIDS is one of the key actions that will also help end pandemics, which is what the global world is looking forward to.
“However, we have so much to do and a long way to go, especially with mother-to-child-transmission taking about 32% and one out of seven being infected on a monthly basis is a Nigerian with about 22,000 infected yearly.Advertisement
“This is a situation that is simply not acceptable and for all these children who get infected, about two-third of them do not get treatment.
“So, we in the global community want the Nigerian government to tell us what their sustainable strategic plans are and what they need to eliminate vertical transmission. The UN and its affiliated agencies and bodies are always willing to help Nigeria put an end to PMTCT.
“Let us know your priorities so that we can assist and help map out strong, sustainable ways to eliminating vertical transmission.”
Gambo Aliyu, director-general of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), emphasised the need for a better strategy to deal with PMTCT.
He explained that in 2016, there were about 13,000 infected pregnant mothers that were not getting treatment, which had risen to 421,000 as of 2019.
Aliyu attributed the rise to the fact that many pregnant women were not visiting health facilities, adding that part of the strategies discussed at the dialogue was how to get treatment to the women if they were not willing to come to the facilities.
Betta Edu, Cross River’s commissioner for health, who spoke on behalf of health commissioners of all the 36 states, said it was important to work alongside other HIV-related organisations in order to make the PMTCT a success.