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HIV: US partners Lagos gov’t to tackle mother to child transmission

United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Team with Lagos State Commissioner for Health Prof. Akin Abayomi. Photo: Omolara Omosanya

The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched the Community Prevention of Mother to Child HIV Transmission (cPMTCT) programme in Lagos.

The launch is an integral part of the American government’s efforts to support a healthier population in Nigeria.

In a ceremony in Ikeja, US CDC Country Director, Mary Adetinuke Boyd, hinted of the urgent need to reach out to all HIV-positive pregnant women with treatment services in order to prevent further transmission of the virus from mothers to children.

Dr Boyd said the services should be provided in conventional health facilities, local communities and other unconventional settings where women seek healthcare services.

She applauded the state government for prioritising the health of residents, specifically for the provision of HIV test kits, waiving of user fees and release of counterpart funds – all of which have been vital to supporting prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission.

Health experts say the new approach, in addition to reaching pregnant women at various hospitals, also involves working with community-level health centers, community-based midwives, traditional birth attendants and other non-conventional healthcare providers.

Through this initiative, they say, important live saving HIV services will become accessible to more pregnant women at the grassroots.

Additionally, the cPMTCT programme will incorporate an enhanced documentation of HIV-positive pregnant women receiving anti-retroviral treatment as part of strategies to close the current gaps in Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV.

As of June 30, 2021, more than 1.6 million Nigerians are receiving US-government supported HIV treatment, as a result of a historic surge that placed 350,000 new patients on lifesaving anti-retrovirals, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reporting by Omolara Omosanya; editing by Muzha Kucha