The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has renewed the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari to making prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV infection one of the signature projects in the country’s health sector.
Adewole made this known in a publication made available to our reporter after a symposium on HIV and Tuberculosis (TB) in Abuja.
The symposium, with the theme “Partnering for Sustainable HIV Epidemic Control in Nigeria”, discussed TB, and HIV and AIDS programme implementation and impact.
Organised by PEPFAR in collaboration with the U.S. Center for Disease Control, the symposium drew together various stakeholders in the health sector.
Adewole explained the presidency’s decision in that regard would drastically reduce the rate of infection of the virus in the country.
He observed that an estimated 3.2 million people were living with HIV and AIDS in Nigeria, ranking only behind South Africa.
“Of this number, just one million Nigerians currently have access to Antiretroviral therapy and access to care and treatment remains a challenge,” he said.
Mr Stuart Syminton, the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, told the stakeholders at the forum that one of the most important things to consider ought to be “saving lives”.
He charged them to think about how they were doing on “how many have been tested, how many are now getting treated and how many more need to be tested?”
“We as a people are committed and must stay committed to making sure that these people are not turned away and that they get care,” he said.
Also speaking, Mr Mahesh Swaminathan, the CDC Country Director in Nigeria, said the symposium was the outcome of CDC and its partners resolve to ensure transparency and accountability in the way the HIV and TB programmes were implemented in Nigeria.
He further said that transparency and accountability could further be enriched when partners provide a forum for robust discussions to share innovative strategies, successes achieved, challenges faced and lessons learnt during the past five-year funding cycle.
It was also reported that aside from the national-level stakeholders, state level political leaders were represented by their commissioners of health from 19 states in Nigeria where CDC is implementing its programmes.