An expert on Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission of HIV, (PMTCT), Dr. Joel Adze, Chairman, PMTCT, Technical Working Group in Kaduna State, has advocated for a comprehensive approach to PMTCT in the state; saying Maternal and Child Health services, (MCH) as the entry point for the prevention of HIV infections in infants and young children.
He stated this during a sensitization meeting with Local Government Chairmen and Stakeholders on Prevention of MTCT of HIV and Adolescents services organized by the state’s Ministry of Health and Human Services in collaboration with UNICEF in Kaduna.
In a paper titled: Introduction to Prevention of MTCT of HIV (PMTCT)” Dr. Adze said, there were four elements of comprehensive approach to prevent Mother-To-Child transmission of HIV which includes: primary prevention of HIV infection, prevention of unintended pregnancies among women infected with HIV.
Others are: prevention of HIV transmission from women infected with HIV to their infants; and provision of treatment, care, and support to women infected with HIV, their infants and their families.
Dr Adze who is also a Consultant Obstetrician/Gynaecologist, explained that a comprehensive approach is needed for PMTCT, saying without intervention, the risk of MTCT is 25 – 40 per cent in breastfeeding setting.
He said that a comprehensive approach including ART for both mother and child can reduce the MTCT rate to as low as 2 per cent even with exclusive breastfeeding up to six months.
On the role of the Local Government Chairmen on the fight against the menace in the state, Dr Adze said; “LG chairmen have an important role to play and an opportunity to impact on their people.”
Similarly, Executive Secretary, Kaduna State AIDS Control Agency, (KADSACA), Dr. Mark Anthony in his presentation which focused on Adolescents and Young Persons, (AYP) said the State commenced HIV intervention program in 2 Local Government Areas of Jaba and Jema’a in 2015, and scaled up to five additional LGAs of Kagarko, Chikun, Igabi, Lere, Birnin Gwari in 2016.
According to him, the objective for this intervention program was as follows: to increase the number of AYP (10-24) years who knows their HIV status from 10 per cent to 40 per cent in 7 LGAs by December 2018; to increase the proportion of sexually active adolescents (15-19) years using condoms from 30 per cent to 50 per cent in 7 LGAs by December 2018.
Others include; to increase the percentage of HIV positive adolescents (10-24) years initiated on ART from one per cent to 21 per cent in the 7 LGAs by December 2018, and to increase the number of primary and secondary schools providing Family Life Health Education, (FLHE) from 25 per cent to 46 per cent in 7 LGAs by December 2018.
However, he said there were challenges of inadequate quality human resources to support implementation of the program; occasional suspension or disruption of planned AYP community activities and health facility services occasdioned by security challenges in some LGAs, notably Birnin Gwari, Chikun and Igabi.
He added that the program also experienced low government support and inadequate coverage due to limited number of volunteers per LGA.
Dr. Anthony therefore recommended that: that local governments should look into providing resources to engage volunteers, while the State Government also support with commodities.
“Advocacy to partners in collaboration with the State Government to support the training of volunteers, and also addressed security issues by the state in collaboration with LGAs.”
The KADSACA boss said that the steady number of adolescent deaths due to AIDS, combined with a growing population of the world’s children aged 0 to 19 (projected to increase to 2.7 billion by 2030), requires partners on the HIV response for children and adolescents to refocused efforts and redouble investments.