By Yashim Katurak
The World Health Organisation (WHO), says Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT) initiative has helped to protect 94.9 per cent infants exposed to HIV by their mothers in Nigeria.
The organisation said this in a statement signed by the WHO Nigeria Officer-in-Charge (OiC), Dr Clement Peter, in Abuja on Wednesday.
He said that the initiative was established by the organisation, donors and partners.
Peter said the body achieved this by providing technical support, evidence-based guidance and recommendations to the Federal Government to help eliminate mother to child transmission of HIV and syphilis in the country.
He said that the organisation had also through the initiative, built the capacity of government to offer quality HIV service delivery.
The WHO Officer-in-Charge, said that the PMTCT initiative was established to help address growing HIV statistics of infants in the country.
He said that the figure obtained from the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) indicated that Nigeria had more HIV-infected babies than any country in the world.
In 2016, Nigeria accounted for 37,000 of the worlds 160,000 new cases of babies born with HIV.
However, since 2017, an estimated 94.9 per cent of infants exposed to HIV by their mothers have been saved from infection through the implementation of the PMTCT intervention under the National AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infection Control Programme (NASCP).
Across the 36 states of the federation and Federal Capital Territory, there are currently a total of 6,301 PMTCT sites.
WHO Nigeria in March donated a vehicle and refurbished NASCP offices towards strengthening the re-established National Treatment and PMTCT which was launched in Feb. 2018.
First introduced in 2001 in Nigeria, the overall goal of the PMTCT is to contribute to the reduction of HIV and AIDS incidences.
The PMTCT aims at ensuring at least 95 per cent of all HIV positive pregnant women and HIV exposed infants have access to effective antiretroviral (ARV) prophylaxis by 2021, Peter said.
He said PMTCT also aimed at ensuring at least 80 per cent of HIV positive pregnant women had access to quality infant feeding counselling and 95 per cent HIV exposed infants had access to Early Infant Diagnosis (EID).
Peter promised that the organisation would continue to support the Nigerian government to end the spread of HIV and promote person-centred HIV service delivery as a way to improve service efficiency and impact.
The statement quoted the NACA Director General, Dr Sani Aliyu as saying Through the PMTCT intervention, prevention of HIV from mother to child has definitely increased.
However, we still have a large chunk of women who do not go to primary health care facilities to deliver.
Aliyu said that poverty played a major role in this stating that the only way to address the problem was to engage traditional birth attendants.
The NACA director general said that there was also the need to train them in HIV testing, provide them with self-test kits and give them incentives to bring HIV positive women to primary healthcare centres for proper attention.