Lagos steps up campaign to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV

Women with their babies
Women with their babies

The Lagos State Government is set for another round of campaign to accelerate the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and to reduce maternal deaths in the state.

This is contained in a statement on Sunday in Abuja by the state`s Ministry of Health.

The statement said that the campaign would enable infected pregnant mothers to have increased access to services, to prevent their babies from being infected and encourage more families to embrace family planning practices.

Part of the strategy, it said, was to unveil the wife of the state governor, Abimbola Fashola, as the face of Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) and Maternal Health in the state.

The strategy, the statement added, would also provide an update on progress towards elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission, MTCT, of HIV in the state in the light of the global plan targets highlighting achievements and gaps.

It was also expected to stimulate commitment of critical stakeholders, provide vital information on PMTCT and compile a directory of functional PMTCT sites in the state.

The goal of the campaign, according to the statement, is to catalyse high level support through the mobilisation of strategic stakeholders, including women of influence.

The aim, it added, was to improve demand for quality Prevention of PMTCT services and to encourage healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies.

The statement said the state was working in collaboration with United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, and the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV and AIDS, UNAIDS.

It added that it was also working with the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, as well as other relevant stakeholders to achieve this goal.

It expressed worries that in spite of the existing facilities and services, the state still contributed significantly to the unacceptably high national maternal deaths and the national burden of HIV.

This, it noted, was due to low utilisation of PMTCT and Family Planning services.

The statement further noted that Lagos state was one of the 12+1 states, which accounts for 70 per cent of Mother –to-Child Transmission of HIV burden in Nigeria with its HIV prevalence of 5.1 per cent.

This, it said, was based on the 2010 National HIV Zero-Prevalence Sentinel Survey and its vast population of 21,883,048, according to the Lagos State Bureau of Statistics.

The statement, however, said that UNAIDS was committed to revolutionising HIV prevention policies and practices that would ignite policy makers, opinion leaders and community gate keepers to focus on populations and programmes.

This, it said, was expected to make a difference in getting to zero new infections.

“One of such programmes is the elimination of vertical transmission of HIV and the reduction of AIDS-related maternal deaths by half in 2015.

“This mandate is clearly in line with that of UNAIDS zero AIDS-related deaths, and UNFPA’s mandate of delivering a world where every birth is safe and where every woman is treated with dignity/respect,’’ the statement said.

It noted that according to the 2012 projected population figures for Lagos State, there were 1,060,225 pregnant women in that year.

This, it added, was at an HIV prevalence of 5.1 per cent, adding that about 54,071 pregnant women were infected with the virus.

It held that approximately one-third of women would, in the absence of any interventions to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, pass the virus to their babies.

This, the statement said, translated to 16,468 preventable HIV infections among infants in the state during 2012 alone.

“The Lagos state maternal mortality ratio of 555/100,000 life-birth, or 555 mothers dying out of 100,000 mothers while giving birth, is higher than the national figure of 545/100,000 life birth.

“This statistics clearly negates UNFPA’s mandate of a world where every birth is safe and where every child is born free of HIV,’’ the statement said.

It added that it was against this background that UNAIDS, UNFPA and UNICEF were supporting the state government and other critical stakeholders to identify their roles in the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and maternal deaths.


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