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PMTCT: UNICEF Demand More Funds from Kaduna State Government

By Uangbaoje Alex, Kaduna

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), on Thursday, demand the Kaduna State Government to commit more funds to support the efforts of partners if the coverage of the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) in the state to achieve at least 90%.

Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Kaduna, Dr Zakari Adam, made the demand at a one-day feedback meeting with Wife of Kaduna State Governor, Hajia Ummi El-Rufa’i, and Chairmen of the 23 Local Government Areas and their spouses.

According Dr. Zakari, Kaduna state is one of the two states selected by UN partners to pilot PMTCT in Nigeria. This he said was based on strategic nature of the state in terms of population, HIV burden, government commitment and enabling programme environment.

He said under government leadership, UNICEF have used evidence to develop and support the implementation of a realistic state and LGA plans for
PMTCT using the Bottleneck Analysis approach.

“This approach showed us, as a team, where we needed to focus to achieve mere results, quickly. We have also set up a structured demand creation mechanism in all the LGAs, working with wives of the LGA chairmen, volunteers and Mentor Mothers in selected LGAs to create demand, refer women for ANC and track defaulters. This has yielded result.”

“Your Excellency, we still have some more work to do to achieve our goal as a state. At no other time had we needed your support more than now. when
we are close to reaching the 90% of coverage of Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV and eliminating Mother to Child Transmission of HIV in Kaduna state. It is possible, and we can do it.” The UNICEF Chief said.

He said for Mother to Child Transmission to be eliminated, “Rapid HIV test kits and other testing commodities should be provided by government. The current supply by partners is inadequate and dwindling Due to shortage of test kits, we are missing some pregnant women who requires HIV testing.

“Your Excellency, we are at a crossroad and need your support for government to urgently fill the gap by procuring additional test kits. The demand creation structure needs to be sustained and scaled up to all the 23 LGAs We are currently active in 16 LGAs.

“This is about government leadership and participation. Your leadership and that of the spouses of the LGA chairmen is immensely important to get this
done. We can always provide the technical support to any desiring
LGA to strengthen its demand creation structure.

“While we appreciate the government resources at all levels, the current HIV response funding stream is a challenge to us all. The relevant government organs responsible for implementing and coordinating the HIV response like KADSACA, SPHCDA and SMOH require funds to function and deliver on the expected results They are currently facing some financial constraint. We need your support, your excellency, to make more operational funds available to them.

He noted that though significant progress has been made, as prevalence of HIV in the state dropped from 7% in 2008 to 1.1% in 2018 and PMTCT coverage rose from 10% in 2013 to 72% in 2018, but that there is need for the current efforts by partners to be scaled up.

Dr. Zakari, also called on LG Chairmen and spouses, to understand their role as critical in driving the demand creation, supervision and implementation of activities for PMTCT at community levels, support LACA, and amongst other things; fund the implementation of the LGA plans for PMTCT.

In her remarks, Wife of the Governor, Hajia Ummi El-Rufa’i, said though there is paucity of funds, but that there is need for all stakeholders to come up with an alternative strategy to sustain the progress being made and also promised to speak with her husband on the matter.

“As a mother, and an ambassador of PMTCT in the state, I will personally advocate with my dear husband, His Excellency Mal Ahmed Nasir El Rufai for procurement of additional HIV test kits in the state.

“I am more than ever, convinced that this is the time for scaling up our efforts and support, not scaling down. Every pregnant woman, wherever she is, counts. We can’t afford to drop the ball now, when we are about to make history. Our collective commitment to this course must be total. No child should ever again be infected with HIV
from his mother HIV positive during pregnancy, labour, delivery or breast feeding in Kaduna state.

“We risk reversing the gains made by reducing or flat-lining investment in PMTCT. While partners are supporting us with commodities like the HIV test kits, family planning commodities and demand creation platforms to reach out, state government must invest more.

“The available HIV test kits are clearly inadequate to meet our target. Every pregnant woman in Kaduna state must know her HIV status if we are to reach the elimination target by 2020, and all HIV positive pregnant and breast-feeding women must be on lifelong treatment to achieve viral suppression. She said.

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