The media and stakeholders in Nigeria have been charged to raise the awareness level on the prevention of Mother-To-Child transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) infection in the country.
This was the thrust of a media dialogue organised by the Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Abuja in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) held in Calabar, Cross River State today.
The UNICEF Communication Specialist, Mr Geoffrey Njoku said the objective of the media dialogue was to furnish journalists with useful information and spur them to give visibility to the issue of prevention of Mother-To-Child transmission of HIV/AIDS so as to curtail the menace.
Njoku charged the participants drawn from different part of the country to step up the reportage of prevention of Mother-To-Child transmission of HIV/AIDS so that concerned individuals, institutions and government at all levels would take appropriate steps to save children that face the risk of contact HIV/AIDS from their infected mothers.
The Head of Child Rights Information Bureau in the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Abuja, Mr Olumide Osanyinpeju who is also a Deputy Director in the ministry gave the charge at a on prevention of Mother-To-Child transmission of HIV/AIDS.
He expressed worry that large number of children in the country are at the risk of contacting infection unless proactive measures are taken by all stakeholders to save the kids from the imminent danger.
He said the federal government was working relentlessly with stakeholders to achieve an HIV/AIDS free nation.
Osanyinpeju charged journalists to championing the course of the realisation of the rights of children to live free from HIV/AIDS.
The media dialogue which was organised by the Ministry in collaboration with the was attended by journalists drawn from various part of the country.
Osanyinpeju commended UNICEF for its contributions, support and partnership with the Nigerian Government as well as the consistent effort being made to ensure the wellbeing of the Nigerian child.
His words “We commend UNICEF for all activities being implemented in partnership with the federal government to ensure that the rights of Nigerian children to adequate and standard health care, besides other basic social services, are preserved.”
“I also wish to acknowledge the collaboration of Federal Ministry of Health, other line partners, and other Stakeholders in making sure that this intervention is a success. I appreciate the National Aids and STIs Control Programme, and other HIV/AIDS partners here present for always working with us in the best interest of Nigerian children.”
“It is worthy to note that it has been a difficult task propagating that children reserve the rights to issues affecting them, the right to live free from diseases, HIV/AIDS in focus here. May we not lose sight of the fact that a large number of Nigerian children are still at risk of infection, a host of them living in our communities under emergencies and insurgencies.”
“We must understand that the deprivation of the foregoing is an infringement on the rights of a child. There is need for all to rise up against this menace, as routine transmission may leave life- long scars that may affect the child emotionally and psychologically.”
“As you know, government alone cannot fight this cause, hence, the need to collaborate with Agencies, NGOs and other line partners and Organizations to advocate on how best to address the issue.”
“We need media to start making the Nigerian people think in the interest of the Nigerian child, to tackle the low level of awareness that exists amongst our people towards the realisation of the health needs of children within the framework of child’s right, and obtaining the desired support from government and institutions.
“I therefore encourage you, to work diligently and develop clear messages that will sensitize and inspire the Nigerian people, and use your stories and reports to create massive awareness and enlighten the people, duty bearers, and indeed all levels of government on the need for prevention and elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Osanyinpeju urged journalists to mainstream the issue so as to increase the knowledge among spouses, partners and family members, as well as addressing HIV-related stigma and deep gender inequalities in decision making.
“By so doing, it will go a long way in realizing the objective of UNICEF at advancing Children’s rights and enhancing their well being. We must work in line with the United Nations General Assembly Resolution to intensify global efforts to eliminate this menace”, Osanyinpeju said.