Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu
By Chuks Okocha
The United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and the United States Global AIDS Coordinator, Mr. Eric Goosby, Wednesday listed 12 states which include Benue, Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Plateau, Abia, Cross River, Bayelsa, Nasarawa, Kaduna and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as states with high rates of Mother to Child transmission of the dreaded HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.
They also said Nigeria is leading in the Sub-Sahara Africa with 72,000 out of 390,000 of mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS every year.
Speaking after they met with the governors on the platform of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Goosby said: “Prevention of mother to child transmission is a huge problem in sub-Sahara Africa and there are about 390,000 children that are born every year in the world as HIV positive, 72,000 of those 390,000 come from Nigeria.”
He also disclosed that because of the determination of both the UN and the US to eliminate the transmission of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, they spent and invested $470 million in Nigeria each year for AIDS cure.
Speaking with journalists after the meeting, Goosby said: “We are committed, as you heard your leadership explained today to strengthen exercises in each state to make it easy for HIV test, if you are pregnant, to get HIV tested, even if you aren’t pregnant , to be easy to do and for those who are HIV positive for them to be referred into a medical system that make sure, whether you are with HIV and put them on retroviral drugs that will take the chances of being HIV positive to the baby down to less than two per cent.
“So, this is something we can do; we need to do it with primary health care system that the president and the ministry of health is supporting in Nigeria and each state is trying to understand how we can partner to move it forward.”
A letter from the United States Embassy in Abuja, signed by the Charge’ D Affairs ad interim, James Mcanulty, to the Director General of the NGF, stated that the above mentioned states were listed as states with high rates of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV/AIDS.
The states are Benue, Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Plateau, Abia, Cross River, Bayelsa, Nasarawa, Kaduna and the Federal Capital Territory.
Also speaking after the meeting, Governor Kwankwanso said that the meeting was called solely as a result of the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the affected states stating also that the governors gave their commitment to work with all the partners, within and outside the country to ensure that there is zero transmission from mother to baby.
The tripartite meeting between the UN Prorgramme for HIV/AIDS and the United States Global AIDS was chaired by Governor Musa Kwankwanso of Kano state on behalf of the Chairman of the Governors Forum.