Political

Nigeria responsible for 24% global burden of HIV/AIDS – UNICEF

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has said that Nigeria is responsible for 24 per cent of global burden of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in the world.

UNICEF HIV/AIDS Specialist, Dr. Abiola Davies, gave the hint at a Two Day Media Dialogue on Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission organised by the Child Right Information Bureau (CRIB) of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in collaboration with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), in Calabar, Cross River state.

She lamented the gradual decline in global fundings by donor agencies and called on the Nigerian government to map up plans on how to redesign its programmes to meet up with the global standard.

95% of the nation's HIV funding/response is generated from donor partners. This is becoming a serious call for concern as the donations are dwindling. There is need for collaborative efforts from agencies and stakeholders to address the situation by redesigning HIV funding plan to meet up with global standard, she said.

She added that if Nigeria was to meet the global targets, more local funding needs to be injected into HIV.

Assistant Director, National Aids and STIs Control Programme, (NASCF) in the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Gbenga Ijaodola said that Nigeria contributes one of the largest proportion of new Vertically Acquired HIV infections among children.

He said, Nigeria is responsible for over 12.4% of the global burden of HIV infected children with an estimated number of 267,000 children living with HIV in the country, he said.

He also pointed out that ninety million pregnant population in Nigeria, only two point six million test for HIV, over six point four are positive and only seven point five are placed on the text and Treat initiative.

He lamented that out of the 9,784,285 women in Nigeria estimated to be pregnant in the country per year, based on fertility rate and population, only 40 percent of them make use of established health facilities, adding that mothers who already have the virus give birth to 8.4 per cent of children with the virus in the country.

9,784,285 women get pregnant annually. Out of this figure, only 4,025,074 register for Anti-Natal Care at the health care centers. While 2,682,337 pregnant women test for HIV, 64,811 pregnant women test positive to the disease.

267,000 children are infected with HIV virus in Nigeria, 54,167 children under 14 years are under anti-retroviral drugs, 10,464 children have their viral loads tested, while 4,699 Nigerian children have viral load suppressed. For Nigeria to be able to address the challenges of the global burden of PMTCT, pregnant women must have access to PMTCT, he Dr. Iyaodola stated.

Earlier, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, urged the media to champion the cause of children to live free of the virus.

The Minister, who was represented by Olumide Osanyipeju, Head, Child Rights Information Bureau of the Ministry, said the Federal Government is on track to bring health services to every child since a large number of children are exposed to the virus.

I also wish to acknowledge the collaboration of Federal Ministry of Health, other line partners, and other Stakeholders in making sure that this intervention is a success. In the same vein, I appreciate the National Aids and STIs Control Programme, and other HIV/AIDS Partners here present for always working with us in the best interest of Nigerian children.

We all know that the need to bring basic health services to every Nigerian child can not be over emphasized. This is a stance we must continue to push until we attain that level where we can confidently say that every Nigerian child has access to basic health services. It is worthy to note that it has been a difficult task propagating that children reserve the rights to issues affecting them, the right to live free from diseases, HIV/AIDS in focus here. May we not lose sight of the fact that a large number of Nigerian children are still at risk of infection, a host of them living in our communities under emergencies and insurgencies. This situation is such that we must all continue to work relentlessly till we achieve an HIV/AIDS free nation, especially with regard to our children. He said.

He added that Nigeria is committed to the goal of Eliminating Mother to child transmission by 2020 and has initiated a number of strategies to achieve it.

HIV /AIDS was first reported as a strange ailment, and first noticed by 5 gay men in Los Angeles, USA in 1982. More than 100 men died thereafter within two months of discovery of the strange condition.

In recent times, the focus is on the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV globally.

Source: Voice of Nigeria