Nigeria: Authorities, UNICEF adopt National Acceleration Plan for HIV infected children
By Mohammad Ibrahim
(Kaduna),16 August; United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with Kaduna State Government launched the National Acceleration Plan aimed at providing succor to HIV infected children in the state northwest part of the country.
Presently Kaduna authorities confirmed that an estimated 7,175 of infants are living with HIV in the state. The State Deputy Director, Public Health from the state Ministry of Health and Human Services, Malam Lawal Abubakar who disclosed this during unveiling of the plan in the said adopting the plan in partnership with UNICEF meant to effectively reach out to all HIV infected children 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 asat June 2016.
Abubakar further said that the development has left the state with an unmet infantHIV 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.
" Adopting the plan has become necessary to strengthen prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and improve thetreatment 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 HIVreceived ART to prevent transmission of HIV to their children in Kaduna State.
“The Federal Government and other stakeholders have agreed to therapid acceleration targets for paediatric HIV treatment.“Kaduna State Government and its development partners should equallyadapt the rapid acceleration targets for PART, which are consistentwith the current needs of the State”.
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 44per cent coverage and less than 10 per cent national data for treatment of HIV infected children.
“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."
Earlier, 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.
“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 livingwith HIV in Nigeria, with approximately 250,000 of them requiringantiretroviral therapy.
“Also, the average annual enrollment 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 andmother-to-child transmission of HIV infection remains high at 28 per