A United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) expert on HIV/AIDS, Dr. Femi Adeyemi has condemned the second position ranking of Nigeria in the global burden of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of Human Immune Virus (HIV) on global HIV chart.
Adeyemi stated this at the beginning of a 3-day zonal meeting of journalists and media practitioners on public advocacy and alliance building for PMTCT services in four states of Akwa Ibom, Benue, Cross River and Imo holding in Eket, Akwa Ibom state.
Adeyemi, who gave an overview of PMTCT, including national targets said that the annual births in the country stood at six million while 56 percent of pregnant women attend ante-natal clinic at least once while four percent attend at least four times, putting national average at 4.1 percent.
According to him, the PMTCT strategies include; primary prevention of HIV in women of reproductive age group, prevention of unintended pregnancy and prevention of mother-to child transmission, stating that reducing the incident of PMTCT involved closing the gap among child-bearing women, pregnant women living with HIV and HIV uninfected women and children.
He added that the global plan for PMTCT was launched in 2011 after a global consultation was held in November 2010, stressing that the plan was aimed at reducing HIV infections among children by 90 percent, and reducing HIV related deaths as the national target was to reduce by 50 percent of HIV incidence among 15 – 49 years old women by 2015.
In their separate presentations, the Communications officer of UNICEF A-Field office, Enugu, Mrs. Ijeoma Onuoha-Ogwe and the FCT Co-ordinator of Journalists Alliance for PMTCT (JAPiN), Mrs. Abimbola Katherine Amosun urged Journalists to be proactive in reporting issues relating to women and children, as it was the duty of the media to carry persistence campaign concerning the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Onuoha-Ogwe said that the issue of equity had not been achieved in the distribution of rights to children, adding that there still remain a widening disparity for children as poverty accounted for the reason why rights of children were not met. She also maintained that financial food crises, climate change and humanitarian crises contributed to the disparity and urged the media to take action to the children.
Amosun said that the reason for establishing JAPiN was to address the issue of media partnership with the other related agencies to tackle PMTCT in the country, as the organization disseminates information about prevention, control, and treatment of HIV particularly as it affects women and children.
Declaring the workshop open the Akwa Ibom State, Commissioner for Health, Dr. Bassey Antai expressed the global desire to have zero new infections which could be achieved through elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
He said the HIV prevalence in the four junta states was high, adding that with the partnership with the media and UNICEF, the problem would be reduced or eliminated in no distance time.
The commissioner who was represented by the state AIDS Programme Co-ordinator, Dr. John Markson therefore urged the participants to faction a proactive approach that would be applied to bring the problem to its minimal level in the zone.