The high transmission of HIV from mothers to children concerns the FG.

Busy Bee
Busy Bee November 27, 2023
Updated 2023/11/27 at 10:17 PM

The concern within the public health sector is escalating due to the alarming rates of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). This worrisome trend has prompted heightened attention and urgent measures to address the root causes and implement effective interventions.

Health authorities and organizations are grappling with the challenge of preventing the transmission of HIV from infected mothers to their newborns during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding. The elevated incidence of this mode of transmission poses a significant threat to both maternal and child health, necessitating a comprehensive and targeted response.

Efforts are being intensified to enhance antenatal and postnatal care, ensuring that pregnant women living with HIV receive timely and appropriate interventions to prevent transmission to their infants. This involves implementing robust testing and counseling services, administering antiretroviral medications, and closely monitoring the health of both the mothers and their babies throughout the perinatal period.

Furthermore, there is a growing recognition of the need for community awareness and education programs to dispel myths and misconceptions surrounding HIV transmission and encourage early testing and treatment. Empowering women with accurate information and providing them with the necessary resources to make informed decisions about their health and that of their infants is crucial in the ongoing efforts to curb mother-to-child transmission.

In tandem with these efforts, research and development initiatives are underway to explore innovative strategies and technologies that can further reduce the risk of HIV transmission from mothers to their children. This includes investigating new antiretroviral drugs, optimizing treatment regimens, and exploring the potential of preventive measures such as pre-exposure prophylaxis for pregnant women.

The worry over high rates of mother-to-child transmission of HIV is driving a collective commitment from healthcare professionals, policymakers, and advocacy groups to work collaboratively in addressing this pressing public health issue. The aim is not only to reduce transmission rates but also to improve overall maternal and child health outcomes, emphasizing the importance of a comprehensive and integrated approach to tackling the complex challenges associated with HIV transmission during the perinatal period.

The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), operating under the auspices of the Federal Government, has expressed deep concern regarding the alarming prevalence of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Nigeria. The national average of this transmission stands at a staggering 22 percent, prompting NACA to emphasize the urgency of implementing targeted interventions to address this pressing issue.

In a statement issued to commemorate World AIDS Day (WAD), Gambo Aliyu, the Director-General of NACA, underscored Nigeria’s significant role in contributing to the global challenge of eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV. He revealed that Nigeria shoulders approximately 30 percent of the world’s shortfall in achieving this crucial international target.

Aliyu emphasized the need for tailored interventions, particularly in states where the rates of mother-to-child transmission exceed 25 percent. This strategic approach aims to concentrate efforts and resources where they are most urgently required, ensuring a more effective response to the escalating crisis.

Despite noteworthy advancements in combating HIV, Nigeria continues to grapple with the second-largest burden of HIV infection globally. The country is home to an estimated 1.8 million people living with the virus, and encouragingly, about 1.63 million individuals are currently receiving life-saving antiretroviral therapy (ART). However, the persistent challenges, especially in the realm of mother-to-child transmission, highlight the ongoing need for comprehensive and targeted measures to curb the spread of HIV in Nigeria and contribute to the global fight against the epidemic.

Addressing the issue of gender distribution in the context of HIV prevalence, the Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) highlighted that approximately 58 percent of individuals living with HIV in Nigeria are female, while the remaining 42 percent are male.

During his speech, Amobi Ogah, the Chairman of the House Committee on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Control (ATM), reassured ongoing legislative support for NACA. He expressed the commitment to implement measures and interventions that would enhance NACA’s capacity to effectively carry out its mandate in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

On the occasion of World AIDS Day, Ogah emphasized the importance of global unity in overcoming the challenges posed by HIV/AIDS. He underscored the need for collaboration and collective efforts to create a future free from the devastating impact of this disease.

The theme chosen by Nigeria for the 2023 World AIDS Day celebrations is ‘Communities: Leadership to End AIDS by 2030.’ This theme reflects the country’s dedication to mobilizing communities and fostering leadership to achieve the ambitious goal of eradicating AIDS by the year 2030.

Addressing the overarching theme, Abdulkadir Ibrahim, the National Coordinator of the Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN), underscored the critical importance of prioritizing communities and networks in the forefront of the HIV/AIDS response. He emphasized the transformative potential of social change to ensure widespread access to treatment and prevention services, urging comprehensive government commitment across all levels in Nigeria, with a particular emphasis on increased efforts at the state level, to bolster the ongoing fight against HIV.

Ibrahim highlighted the proactive role that community members must play in overcoming the formidable challenges that impede the provision of essential HIV services to those who need them the most. He articulated the necessity for collaborative efforts, involving both governmental and community stakeholders, to address the complex barriers hindering effective HIV interventions.

Observing the annual World AIDS Day (WAD) on December 1, Ibrahim emphasized its significance as a global initiative dedicated to preventing new infections, enhancing HIV awareness and knowledge, providing support to individuals living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, and commemorating those who have lost their lives to the disease. This collective endeavor aims to reinforce the global commitment to combating HIV/AIDS and fostering a more inclusive and supportive environment for those affected by this health challenge.

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