FG ADOPT STRATEGIES TO CHECK MOTHER TO CHILD INFECTION OF HIV

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…APIN provides capacity training for health workers

Federal Government has said it is determined to eliminate mother-to-child-transmission (PMTCT) of HIV by focusing more attention to eight highest burden states.

It said that part of the strategies to achieve this is by strengthening the linkages between PMTCT services and maternal and child health programmes.

Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire who spoke at this year’s World AIDS Day, noted that there has been improvements in HIV treatment coverage despite COVID-19 Induced disruptions.

He said that World AIDS Day commemoration -provided “an opportunity to reflect on where we stand today and remind ourselves where we want to be with regard to the fight against HIV/AIDS”.

He said Nigeria had 1,228,100 patients on ART, 150,000 patients more than the number in June last year.

“Without doubt, there is need to continue to raise awareness about HIV, promote the rights of people living with HIV, and importantly, ensure access to life-saving HIV medicines for them.

“This year has been unique because of the new challenges to our health system and our lives brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, in spite of which, I am pleased to note we are still on track to ending the AIDS epidemic in Nigeria.”

In addition, Ehanire said specific policy changes were rapidly adopted, to limit disruptions in access to HIV treatment.

For example, he said that multi-month dispensing’ of ARVs, whereby medicines are provided to patients to last them up to three months, has been adopted.

“Progress in “Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission” remains challenging; but we remain resolute too in our goal to eliminate Mother-to-Child-Transmission of HIV.

“Through our new thrust for PMTCT optimisation, we are giving increased attention to the eight highest burden states.

” We are strengthening the linkages between PMTCT services and maternal and child health programmes; and very important, increasing investment to ensure availability of HIV tests, including HIV self-testing kits,” he said.

Meanwhile, a leading non governmental organisation, APIN Public Health Initiatives, said it has been involved in the implementation of projects on HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis in Benue, Ekiti, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo and Plateau states.

The group specialises in designs and execution projects to reduce the burden of diseases and public health challenges in Nigeria.

In statement by the group which commissioned its new corporate headquarters in Abuja last weekend, they said they are set to provide HIV testing and counselling services to the members of the public especially those population at risk.

The public health initiative which started as a project of the Harvard School of Public Health nearly

20 years ago, now implements projects on HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis in Benue, Ekiti, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo and Plateau states.

“Across these locations, we provide HIV testing and counselling services to the general population and those population at risk.

“We also ensure that those tested receive their antiretroviral drugs and are followed up to help them stay consistent with the drugs so that their viral load is suppressed.”

In addition, it said the group will build the capacity of health workers, laboratory scientists and testers to deliver responsive, quality HIV testing and counselling services and to a accurately determine the risk level of patients. This is important to prevent further spread of HIV.

This strategic move will also allow the organisation to leverage and build its experience implementing interventions and projects in thematic areas such as HIV/AIDS and Maternal and Child Health, and pursue a more diverse range of opportunities within the development and humanitarian space.

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