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UNICEF: Babies At Risk Of Contracting HIV

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The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has revealed that about six thousand (6,000) newborns in Kaduna State may be at risk of contracting HIV in 2019 if elimination of Mother-To-Child Transmission of HIV interventions is not implemented.

Dr Zakari Adam, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Kaduna, made the assertion at a one-day meeting organized for the wives of Local Government chairmen in the state.

Adam opined that Kaduna State was one of the four states in the country being supported by UNICEF to pilot Elimination of mother-to-child transmission (EMTCT) by 2020 and end adolescent AIDs epidemic by 2030. He commended the increase in eMTCT coverage from 16 percent in 2012 to 66 percent in 2017 but challenged the low antenatal care attendance and hospital delivery.

Adam also said the state was also battling with low awareness about the benefits of eMTCT and inadequate human resources for quality health services.

“Currently, there are 6,000 babies at risk of getting HIV infection in 2019 if appropriate and innovative eMTCT interventions are not fully implemented.

“This meeting, therefore, provides an opportunity to lay bare all the eMTCT challenges with a view to taking proactive measures to tackle them,” he said.

Speaking at the meeting, Malam Lawal Abubakar, a resource person noted that inadequate funding was grossly affecting eMTCT activities in the state, leading to inadequate test kits and other HIV commodities in eMTCT facilities.

“There was also weak linkage of pregnant women who tested HIV positive from health facilities to HIV treatment.

“As at 2017, 56 percent of antenatal care facilities were provided with eMTCT service and only 66 percent of HIV pregnant women were placed on treatment,” Abubakar added.

On his part, Dr Paul Dogo, Kaduna state Commissioner for Health and Human Services, revealed that the state had achieved a giant stride in reducing the prevalence of HIV in the state.

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