Expert advocates for national emergency on mother to child transmission of HIV

The National Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) led National AIDS and STIs Control Programme has called on the Federal Government to declare a national emergency on PMTCT.

Dr Ijaodola Olugbenga, Assistant Director, PMTCT made the call in Calabar on Tuesday at a three-day workshop to reinvigorate and produce a work plan for journalists.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the journalists are members of the Journalist’s Alliance for the Prevention of Mother-To- Child Transmission of HIV and AIDS (JAPiIN).

The workshop is organised by the Child Rights Information Bureau, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in collaboration with UNICEF.

He said that there was an urgent need for a clear community strategy to reach the unreached, recognise important of working with all actors, private providers, Traditional Birth Attendance (TBAs), community leaders and networks of People Leaving with HIV.

The PMTCT boss also called for the establishment and empowerment of the Local Government Areas (LGAs) team to address data, sample logging, commodities and other relevant HIV services.

He said that there was need to organise all facilities (Public and Private) and other service delivery points of HIV services for pregnant women using a ‘Hub and Spoke’ model.

”We need to strengthen data reporting and use based on the hub and spoke approach and with engagement of the LGA team.

“There is the need to develop state specific realistic approach to improve Ante Natal Clinic (ANC), ANC Testing and PMTCT coverage Development.

“Endorsement and implementation of the state level framework for elimination of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV and Syphilis,” Olugbenga said.

He decried the low ANC service uptake, low uptake of early infant diagnosis services and urged women to know their HIV status before getting pregnant to help them plan their pregnancy.

The assistant director further said that two-third of expected pregnancies are not captured in the PMTCT reporting system and that over 90 per cent of pregnant women showed up at health facilities reporting PMTCT get tested for HIV.

He said: ”According to the National Strategic Plan (NSP), only 95 per cent of all HIV positive pregnant and breastfeeding mothers receive anti-retroviral therapy and 95 per cent of all HIV-exposed infants receive anti-retroviral prophylaxis.

“Only 95 per cent of all HIV-exposed infants have early infant diagnosis within six to eight weeks of birth”.

According to him, the WHO elimination of Mother to Child Transmission target (“yellow book”) said the country has 95 per cent ANC coverage, 95 per cent testing coverage for pregnant women with 95 per cent PMTCT coverage.

“Poor access to the formal public health sector, PMTCT services at present reaches only about a third of pregnant women in Nigeria and many states are yet to respond to the provision of adequate funding for HIV programmatic activities, including PMTCT,” he said.(NAN)