The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), yesterday disclosed that not less than 6,000 newborn babies in Kaduna State alone are at the risk of getting infected by HIV before the end of 2019.
Dr. Adam Zakari, UNICEF Chief of Field Office, Kaduna, made the disclosure in Kaduna on Monday at a one day Feedback meeting with the Wife of Kaduna State Governor and Spouses of Local Government Chairmen/Chairpersons on level of Kaduna Implementation of 2018 Demand Creation activities for the Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV in the State.
Zakari, said, though Kaduna has recorded lots of achievement of consistent increase in Prevention to Mother Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV, coverage from 16% in 2012 to 66% in 2017, however, HIV in children has become a critical health problem undermining the positive impact of child survival intervention efforts of the state.
He said, “This increase is as result of joint evidence-based planning and coordinated implementation of home grown LGA specific strategies and interventions across the state.
“However, there are about 6,000 babies at risk of getting HIV infected this year in Kaduna State if appropriate and innovative PMTCT interventions are not implemented. It is there evident that transmission of HIV in children has become a critical health problem undermining the positive impact of child survival intervention efforts of the state.”
He also stated that Kaduna State is one of the four states in the country being supported by UNICEF to pilot elimination of Mother to Child Transmission (eMTCT) of HIV by 2020 and end adolescent AIDs epidemic by 2030.
According to him, the state is still challenged by low Antenatal Care (ANC) attendance and hospital delivery and is equally battling with low awareness about the benefits of eMTCT and inadequate human resources for quality health services.
“Currently, there are 6,000 babies at a risk of getting HIV infection in 2019 if appropriate and innovative eMTCT interventions are not fully implemented.
“This meeting, therefore, provides an opportunity to lay bare all the eMTCT challenges with a view to take proactive measures to tackle them,” he said.
He also expressed happiness over the way the wives of LGA chairmen are committed in their resolve to help in eliminating HIV in the State.
Speaking earlier, in his remark, the state Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr Paul Dogo, said that the state has achieved a giant stride in reducing the prevalence of HIV in the state.
Dogo explained that HIV prevalence has reduced from 11.6 per cent in 1999 to 1.1 per cent in 2018 adding that the state has moved from prevention of mother to child transition of HIV to elimination.
He stressed that the government has put all necessary measures to ensure that attainment of zero mother to child transmission by 2020.
On her part, Wife of Kaduna State Governor, Hajiya Ummi El-Rufai, appealed to the wives of the LG chairmen to redouble their effort toward ensuring that no child is infected with HIV.
“Take this as a personnel responsibility in ensuring that all pregnant women in your domain are enlighten on the benefits of eMTCT, attends ANC and demand for HIV services.
“This is the only way we will continue to make progress toward achieving zero new infections of HIV among newborn in Kaduna state,” she said.