The Federal Ministry of Health has developed a National Operational plan for the Elimination of Mother-to-Child transmission of HIV (2017-2018), aimed at halting the spread of the scourge by 2030.
Dr Deborah Odoh, the Assistant Director, HIV/AIDS Division of the ministry made this known at the National Conference on HIV Prevention in Abuja on Wednesday.
She said the operational plan had incorporated the roles of the private sector and the community in the bid to end the Prevention of Mother-to Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV. She added that the plan had also addressed the provision of Anti-Retro Viral (ARV) drugs for HIV positive pregnant women and ensured that unintended/unplanned pregnancies were prevented among positive women. She explained that since 2002 when the PMTCT programme begun, Nigeria had been one of the first to adopt each revision of guidelines recommended by World Health Organization (WHO).
She said government had strengthened the health system, provided essential commodities like test kits and ARVs, capacity building for health providers and improved the health-seeking behaviour of Nigerians. According to Odoh, only about 30 per cent of HIV positive women are accessing ARVs for PMTCT despite efforts of government and partners. She, however, added that “we wanted to use available resources to reach more pregnant women with the WHO recommended “Option B” alternative.” She noted that providing life-long ARVs was a responsibility that must not be taken lightly, as work on uninterrupted drug supply, strengthening of health systems and capacity buildings for health providers were areas that must be sustained. The assistant director said the ministry was committed to full implementation of the Task Shifting/Task Sharing policy for Maternal and Newborn Health Care. “We are intensifying efforts to source funds to bridge the gap created by the dwindling resources and support for PMTCT services in Nigeria. “Advocacy to governors, lawmakers, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Budget and Planning is being carried out by the ministers of health to ensure that key activities are captured in the 2017 budget,’’ she said.
Source: Vanguard Newspaper.