ABEOKUTA – No fewer than 70,000 babies born in Nigeria every year test positive to HIV. Director-General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS, NACA, Professor John Idoko, who disclosed this yesterday in Abeokuta, Ogun State, during a courtesy call on Governor Ibikunle Amosun said the development was as a result of the inadequate utilisation of available initiatives to prevent the transmission of HIV through the mother-to-child route.
Idoko, who told the governor that the agency was ready to partner with Ogun State Government in the prevention of HIV and AIDS and other related diseases in the state, stated that the quoted figure was a compilation of the Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja.
He said: “It’s the figure we have been utilising. It was collated by the apex Ministry of Health and shows that an average of six million women get pregnant every year in Nigeria out of which 250,000 are HIV positive. If there was no intervention, these women would give birth to 50,000 – 70,000 children who would also be HIV positive.”
Lamenting the relatively high incidence of HIV transmission among pregnant women and their babies in the country, the NACA boss noted that the issue was that something drastic needed to be done to improve the coverage of the efforts aimed at eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV in the country.
He said: “We are responsible for 30 per cent of the global burden of newborns that are born HIV positive, mainly because women do not take up the prevention of mother-to-child transmission, PMTCT, intervention efforts. This is a development that is worrisome to us and our partners.”
“The problem is that women need to go for antenatal care to get tested and obtain the intervention, but only 40 per cent of these women go at least once, after which they do not come back once they have been tested.”
The Director-General called for the improvement of the State Action Committee on AIDS, SACA, to fight the spread of the scourge, stressing that that NACA was willing to collaborate with any agency to improve the healthcare system in Nigeria.
He appealed to government at all levels to assist the agency in strengthening the fight against HIV/AIDs and other related diseases, promising that NACA would not relent in its efforts at achieving the mandate given to it especially the elimination of mother- to-child transmission.
Earlier, the Ogun state governor, Ibikunle Amosun, expressed satisfaction with the decentralization of the activities NACA, saying it would help in touching positively the life of the masses particularly at the grassroots.
He reiterated his government’s readiness to collaborate with other relevant stakeholders towards reducing the HIV/AIDS scourge and other related diseases in the State.