HIV Treatment, Care: UNICEF, KDSG Launches National Acceleration Plan

By ALEX UANGBAOJE,  Kaduna

As part of effort to domesticate the National Acceleration Plan, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with the Kaduna State Government on Wednesday launched the treatment plan aimed at taking care of HIV infected children in the state.

Speaking during the unveiling of the plan in Kaduna, HIV/AIDS Specialist, UNICEF Abuja, Dr Abiola Davies said a lot of countries have achieved 90 per cent of coverage on drugs needed to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

She said however that Nigeria is still not doing well in that direction with only 44
per cent coverage and less than 10 per cent national data for
treatment of HIV infected children.

According to her,  “This was one of the reasons why the national acceleration plan was
developed and launched at the national level in Abuja in the first
week of June 2016.

“So, for better coverage, UNICEF felt that the plan should be adopted
at the state level to achieve better impact in improving treatment and
care of HIV infected children, and I am glad Kaduna State has done it.”

In his presentation, Deputy Director, Public Health, Kaduna State
Ministry of Health and Human Services, Malam Lawal Abubakar,  said adopting the plan is met to effectively reach out to all HIV infected children in the state.

Abubakar who also doubles as the state’s Focal Person on Prevention of
Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT) explained that an estimated 7,175 of
infants are living with HIV in the state.

He also explained that out of the figure, only 6.6 per cent of the
infants are currently accessing antiretroviral (ART) in the State as
at June 2016.

Abubakar further said that the development has left the state with an unmet infant
HIV treatment burden of almost 90 per cent.

He added that from January to June, out of the 826 number of
children from 0 to 14 years, newly enrolled into the ART programe,
only 402 were retained and placed on ART.

According to him, adopting the plan has become necessary to strengthen
prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and improve the
treatment and care of HIV infected infants.

“The most efficient and cost-effective way to tackle paediatric HIV
globally is to reduce mother-to-child transmission.
“As at June 2016, only 47 per cent of pregnant women living with HIV
received ART to prevent transmission of HIV to their children in
Kaduna State.

“The Federal Government and other stakeholders have agreed to the
rapid acceleration targets for paediatric HIV treatment.
“Kaduna State Government and its development partners should equally
adapt the rapid acceleration targets for PART, which are consistent
with the current needs of the State”.

Also speaking, Dr Idris Baba, HIV/AIDS Specialist, UNICEF Kaduna,
explained that the plan provides the framework for a concerted push by
all stakeholders to close the perennial gap in HIV treatment for
children living with HIV.

Baba added that the plan was equally designed to ensure that children
are not left behind as Nigeria works to get on track towards achieving
global commitments.

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“Only 44, 042, representing 20.7 per cent of all estimated eligible
children receiving treatment as at 2014. This was in contrast with
703,358, representing nearly 50 per cent adult ART coverage.
“Based on the 2014 survey, an estimated 380,000 children are living
with HIV in Nigeria, with approximately 250,000 of them requiring
antiretroviral therapy.

“Also, the average annual enrolment rate of children was only 8,040
per year between 2010 and 2014 and ART coverage for children living
with HIV aged 0 to 14 years continues to lag behind that for adults.
“Nigeria has about 80 per cent unmet paediatric HIV treatment need and
mother-to-child transmission of HIV infection remains high at 28 per
cent, “he added.

He however said that the acceleration plan represent Federal
Government’s committed to the global goal to end the AIDS epidemic by
2030.

Newsweb

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