By Chioma Obinna
A CUMULATIVE 18,335 persons including pregnant women and children, are currently accessing comprehensive HIV treatment care and support at the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research NIMR, Yaba, Lagos. This is coming on the heels of a recent report ranking Nigeria eighth out of the 12 countries that have attained stability in HIV infections. At 0.9 per cent, the Institute’s Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission, MTCT, programme is one of the lowest in the country.
Though not strictly a hospital, NIMR quickly became one of the prime sites for comprehensive HIV care, treatment and support as a result of dedication and commitment of staff. Director General, NIMR, Professor Innocent Ujah told Good Health Weekly that a level progress has been achieved in the fight against HIV &AIDS, but the global economic downturn and consequent donor fatigue was impacting negatively on ongoing efforts. He stressed the need for to scale up services to ensure that all infected persons are identified and enrolled into care and that all who are eligible for ARVs are getting them regularly and consistently.
“The goal of zero HIV related – deaths in the country are achievable, we must raise the momentum to increase the uptake of PMTCT by pregnant mothers if we must reduce the prevalence of new paediatric HIV infection in Nigeria.”
Coordinator, Positive Life Organisation of Nigeria, NIMR Support group for people living with HIV& AIDS, Mr. Patrick Akpan identified poor funding as a major challenge and called on the three tiers of government to step up their response efforts by providing more fund on HIV projects as well as pass a Bill that would protect people living with HIV&AIDS against stigma and discrimination and ensure it is implemented. Head of Clinical Services,
Dr. Oliver Ezechi maintained that the world is on the last phase of the battle which is the elimination phase. He said the phase could be very prolonged or short depending on collective ability.