By Gabriel Enogholase
BENINâ€”Edo StateÂ government yesterday declared in Benin that ante natal care was now free for all pregnant women in hospitals owned by government across the state to ensure optimum care and support was given to pregnant mothers.
The state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Moses Momoh,Â disclosed this while declaring open a five-day training workshop on HIV Counseling and Testing [HCT] for health workers.
The workshop, organized by the United Nations International Children Education Fund [UNICEF] in collaboration with the state Ministry of Health, was designed to create awareness as well as build capacity for health workers to render adequate health care services on the prevention of mother to child transmission [PMTCT].
Declaring the workshop open, the Commissioner said that the Central Hospital, Benin, Auchi and Uromi as well as General Hospitals, would provide free HIV counseling and treatment, adding that the state government decided to scale up services to other state hospital that serve a very significant proportion of the rural populace.
He commended UNICEF for partnering with the state government in rendering services on prevention of mother to child transmissible diseases and noted that it was an entry point to the on-going care and support for women with HIV and their families.
Momoh attributed the mother to child transmission of HIV infections as responsible for more than 90 % of infections among children, stressing that a baby has 25 to 35% chances of becoming infected during pregnancy, childbirth or breast feeding.
Also speaking, UNICEF consultant, Prof. Ejiro Emuvieyen, assured that the state would benefit immensely from the federal governmentâ€™s support towards reducing the scourge of HIV/AIDS as well as the prevention of the virus.
He also stressed the need for the state government to complement the efforts of UNICEF in the fight against the dreaded disease through the provision of sufficient Anti Retroviral Drugs in various hospitals and health centers across the state.