The federal government is committed to stopping the transmission of HIV from mother to child in the country.
The Deputy Director and Head of Treatment, Care and Support Division of the National AIDS/STI Control Program of the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Clement Adesigbin, made this known at the second scientific roundtable organized by the Center for Integrated Health Programs in Abuja.
The program was themed “Leaving no one behind: Innovative Program Recalibration, Integration and the Role of Big Data in Reaching Populations to Address the HIV Epidemic.”
According to Adesigbin, Nigeria has done a good job in the HIV response.
“We are happy that a lot of people came to us with AIDS at that time, but today that is no longer the case, so we have done a good job,” he said.
“Look at the HIV prevalence in Nigeria, which is currently 1.3 percent. So it’s very difficult to find these cases among 200 million people, and that’s why we need a lot of innovation.
“Pediatrics, which we are talking about right now, is one of our priorities. We’re not doing so well, and if you look at the situation worldwide, pediatrics is usually a problem.
“Some countries have managed to eliminate mother-to-child transmission, Rwanda is one example. In Nigeria, it doesn’t look so good. But nowadays, we are making every effort to make sure that doesn’t happen, that no child is infected anymore, and if you don’t close that gap, there will continue to be pediatric cases.
“So if we can really close the gap on PMTCT, then we have little to do with pediatric cases,” Adesigbin said.
The executive director of the Center for Integrated Health Programs, Dr. Bolanle Oyelodun, also said the organization is working with the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief through the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to address HIV issues in the country.
Oyelodun said, “We run programs with support from the U.S. government through PEPFAR and work with private organizations and foundations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the MTN Foundation, with funding from the World Health Organization, the Canadian government and Gates Challenge Exploration.
“We partner with the federal and state governments, including ministries of health and national AIDS control agencies,” he said.
“What we’re doing primarily is supporting treatment and making sure that prevention is done primarily by government health facilities and also by private health facilities.”
For her part, WHO representative Dr. Oluwafunke Ilesanmi, technical officer for HIV/viral hepatitis at the World Health Organization, called on stakeholders to support the government in the fight against HIV.
“We want to identify with the key words of the issue: Innovation, Integration, Data, and making sure we leave no one behind. This is the right time to think about these things, and we hope that it doesn’t stop there, but that our discussion here will influence policy and also ensure that implementation actually happens as we see fit.
“We urge all stakeholders to continue to support the Nigerian government, not just for individuals, but for all stakeholders, including people living with HIV,” Ilesanmi said.