The Minister of State for Health visited two states.
Following Nigeria’s recent declaration as the country with the worst child HIV prevalence and incidence rate by the United Nations, the Minister of State for Health, Muhammad Pate, has led advocacy visits to Bayelsa and Cross River States, believed to have high HIV prevalence in children.
This is in a bid to encourage the expansion of Preventing Mother To Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) service delivery in Primary Health Centres, PHC, and private facilities.
The visits were also aimed at promoting performance management towards achieving greater impact in the national MTCT programme.
The minister, who made courtesy calls to the state governors and traditional rulers while visiting both states, also held meetings with various PMTCT stakeholders as well as the health commissioners, other state officials, development partners, and civil society groups. He also visited primary health care centres providing PMTCT services.
Speaking while meeting with the various stakeholders, Mr. Pate said applying simple interventions can result in massive increase in the number of lives saved, especially of women and children.
According to the minister, some of these interventions include “increasing access and utilization of Maternal and Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) services; immunization against vaccine preventable diseases and voluntary counselling and testing of mothers and providing access to treatment where indicated”.
He, however, noted that it is very important that all stakeholders worked “collectively” to reverse the HIV prevalence in the respective states. He said there is need for the state leadership, especially the state governors, to hold their teams accountable for progress made on the MTCT agenda.
Currently, efforts are geared at assisting the states to identify the priority interventions for MTCT over the next few years as well as planning towards implementing them in a collective way.
The visits, according to Mr. Pate, are a continuation of the recently launched Saving One Million Lives, SOML, initiative. The initiative, birthed on October 16, 2012, has several components geared at preventing the death of women and children from preventable causes such as PMTCT.
According to documents made available by the Ministry Of Health to PREMIUM TIMES, the PMTCT component of the SOML initiative builds on existing policies and frameworks and strives to focus on strengthening state-led execution, performance management and delivery of PMTCT services by setting clear, ambitious targets for greater impact.
As part of supporting clear target setting for improved outcomes and impact, a PMTCT diagnostic was conducted in Nasarawa state last year.
The diagnostic however provided a state-specific fact base to accelerate implementation of PMTCT scale up activities. Using the findings from the diagnostics, Nasarawa state, with support from partners, is already demonstrating catalytic progress in its scale up efforts.
Consequently, by the end of the first quarter of 2013, the state was on track in meeting her 2013 scale-up targets.
“There is at least a 205 percent increase in the number of health facilities providing PMTCT services. Currently, at least 41 Private Health facilities now offer PMTCT services in a systematic and coordinated way and 67.57 percent of women testing positive in private facilities are receiving ARVs” the ministry disclosed in its document.
Before the diagnostic was conducted, only two private facilities in the state were offering PMTCT services.
As a result of the experience and results from Nasarawa state, key stakeholders endorsed the replication of the Deep Dives in other high burden states to strengthen data-driven planning towards accelerating PMTCT scale-up to other primary health centres and private health facilities.
According to the Ministry of Health, these comprehensive measures are now underway in several high burden states such as Cross River, Rivers, Bayelsa, Kano, Plateau and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja.
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