IHIDERO Victor Osae, Kaduna
Premised on its effort to domesticate the National Acceleration Plan, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with the Kaduna State Government on Wednesday launched the treatment plan aimed at tackling HIV infected children in the state.
Speaking during the unveiling of the plan in Kaduna, HIV/AIDS Specialist, UNICEF Abuja, Dr Abiola Davies noted that a lot of countries have achieved 90 per cent of coverage on drugs needed to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Whilst emphasizing the need to intensify efforts at curtailing mother-to-child transmission, she noted that Nigeria is not doing well in tackling thettransmission with only 44 per cent coverage and less than 10 per cent national data for treatment of HIV infected children.
According to her, “This was one of the reasons why the national acceleration plan was developed and launched at the national level in Abuja in the first week of June 2016.
“So, for better coverage, UNICEF felt that the plan should be adopted at the state level to achieve better impact in improving treatment and care of HIV infected children, and I am glad Kaduna State has done it.”
In the same vein, Deputy Director, Public Health, Kaduna State Ministry of Health and Human Services, Malam Lawal Abubakar, in his presentation said adopting the plan is meant to effectively reach out to all HIV infected children in the state.
Abubakar who also doubles as the state’s Focal Person on Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT) explained that an estimated 7,175 of infants are living with HIV in the state.
He also explained that out of the figure, only 6.6 per cent of the infants are currently accessing antiretroviral (ART) in the State as of June 2016.
Abubakar further said that the development has left the state with an infant HIV treatment burden of almost 90 per cent.
He added that from January to June, out of the 826 number of children from 0 to 14 years, newly enrolled into the ART programe, only 402 were retained and placed on ART.
According to him, adopting the plan has become necessary to strengthen prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and improve the treatment and care of HIV infected infants.
“The most efficient and cost-effective way to tackle paediatric HIV globally is to reduce mother-to-child transmission.
“As at June 2016, only 47 per cent of pregnant women living with HIV received ART to prevent transmission of HIV to their children in Kaduna State.
“The Federal Government and other stakeholders have agreed to the rapid acceleration targets for paediatric HIV treatment.
“Kaduna State Government and its development partners should equally adapt the rapid acceleration targets for PART, which are consistent with the current needs of the State”.
Also speaking, Dr Idris Baba, HIV/AIDS Specialist, UNICEF Kaduna, explained that the plan provides the framework for a concerted push by all stakeholders to close the perennial gap in HIV treatment for children living with HIV.
Baba added that the plan was equally designed to ensure that children are not left behind as Nigeria works to get on track towards achieving global commitments.
“Only 44, 042, representing 20.7 per cent of all estimated eligible children receiving treatment as at 2014. This was in contrast with 703,358, representing nearly 50 per cent adult ART coverage.
“Based on the 2014 survey, an estimated 380,000 children are living with HIV in Nigeria, with approximately 250,000 of them requiring antiretroviral therapy.
“Also, the average annual enrolment rate of children was only 8,040 per year between 2010 and 2014 and ART coverage for children living with HIV aged 0 to 14 years continues to lag behind that for adults.
“Nigeria has about 80 per cent unmet paediatric HIV treatment need and mother-to-child transmission of HIV infection remains high at 28 per cent, “he added.
He however said that the acceleration plan represent Federal Government’s committed to the global goal to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.