Kaduna State Government says it has adopted the National Acceleration Plan for the treatment and care of HIV infected children.
Malam Lawal Abubakar, the Deputy Director, Public Health in the State Ministry of Health and Human Services, said on Friday in Kaduna that the plan was being implemented in partnership with UNICEF.
Abubakar, who is also the state Focal Person on Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT), said that the adoption of the plan had helped to effectively target HIV infected children.
According to him, the plan has strengthen prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and improve 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 adopt the rapid acceleration targets for PART, which is consistent with the current needs of the state,” he said.
Abubakar said that an estimated 7, 175 infants were living with HIV in the state, out of which only 6.6 per cent were accessing anti-retroviral (ART) as at June.
He said that the development had left the state with an unmet infant HIV treatment burden of almost 90 per cent.
Abubakar said that from January to June, 826 children from 0 to 14 years were enrolled into the ART programme, but only 402 were retained and placed on ART.
Also speaking, a UNICEF HIV/AIDS Specialist, Dr Abiola Davies, said that a lot of countries had achieved 90 per cent coverage in prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Davies, however, said that Nigeria was still lagging behind with only 44 per cent coverage and less than 10 per cent national data for the 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.
“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,’’ she said.
Also speaking, Dr Idris Baba, HIV/AIDS specialist, explained that the plan had provided framework for concerted push by all stakeholders to close existing gap in treatment of HIV infected children.
Baba added that the plan would ensure that children were not left behind as the country works toward achieving global commitments on HIV/AIDS.
He said, “Only 44, 042, representing 20.7 per cent of all estimated eligible children received 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.
“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.”