By Chioma Umeha
Dr. Sunday Aboje, National Coordinator, National AIDS/STI Control Programme(NASCAP), Federal Ministry of Health, has urged the Federal Government to take ownership of elimination of Mother to Child transmission (eMTCT) of HIV programmes to end disease infection in the country.
Dr. Aboje said this at the opening of a three-day communication strategic review workshop by Journalists Alliance for Prevention of Mother to Child transmission of HIV (JAPiN) in Calabar, Cross Rivers State, recently.
While stressing on the need for Federal Government to take charge of the programme, the National Coordinator, NASCAP, decried the country’s dependence on foreign donors to eliminate mother to child transmission of HIV.
He further attributed over-reliance on foreign donors to be responsible for the lack of coordination in the HIV Health Sector Response, saying this result in duplication of efforts, parallel programme, among others.
Dr, Aboje said: “Over-dependence on external donors is also responsible for lack of coordination in the HIV Health Sector Response resulting in duplication of efforts, parallel programme, wastage of resources with little or no impact on the patients.
“Instead of Government to dictate, guide and supervise donor agencies and implementing partners, the reverse is the case. They operate with minimum regards to stipulated guidelines or agreements with the Federal Government. In summary, ‘HIV Programme seems hijacked by international donors agencies.”
Aboje stated that currently, 380,000 children are HIV positive in the country, adding that Nigeria is committed to the goal of eliminating new HIV infections among children and keeping their mothers alive by 2020.
He also said that the 90-90-90 target has received a boost in Nigeria with the new guidelines of test and treat.
The National Coordinator was optimistic that there is a renew hope of viral suppression that would provide the potency to stop further transmission as a prevention tool while prolonging the lives of the infected persons.
“The country has come a long way in its effort to control the HIV/AIDS epidemic, particularly in PMTCT. Beginning with the pioneer 11 PMTCT-provider tertiary health facilities in 2002, the country now has 7,265 health facilities providing PMTCT services at all levels of the health care system.”
Aboje, however, stated that Nigeria’s target on eliminating new HIV cases in children among other things for 2018 was to ensure 50 percent of HIV-exposed children have access to HIV prophylaxis treatment and early infant diagnosis services.
He also declared that funding, inadequate political commitment, and funding at state and LGA levels, weak health infrastructure as well as inadequate engagement of the private health sector as some challenges against eliminating new HIV cases in children.
Prompt release of 100 percent budget for AIDS control, prevention, and treatment for the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) would make a difference in the lives of people living with the disease, Dr. Aboje said.