Data released by the Federal Ministry of Health on HIV Tested Services (HTS) on antenatal attendees from 2015 to 2020 showed that only 18,014,592 of the estimated 43,889,668 pregnant women in Nigeria attended antenatal.
This indicates that 25,875,076 pregnant women did not access antenatal services during the period and were therefore not captured in the Prevention of Mother- to-Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) reporting system during the period under review.
The World Health Organisation (WHO’s) Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission (EMTCT) targets 95 per cent Antenatal Care (ANC) coverage, 95 per cent testing coverage for pregnant women and 95 per cent PMTCT coverage. However, ANC coverage in Nigeria remains at 24 per cent.
The data, which was contained in a presentation by a health expert, Dr Ijaodola Olugbenga, at a 3-day media dialogue on PMTCT, organised by the Child Rights Information Bureau, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in collaboration with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), at Calabar, Cross River State, noted that Nigeria contributes 22,000 new HIV infections among children.
This has raised concerns among stakeholders, as the country risks breeding generation of HIV positive children.
Olugbenga, who is the assistant director, National AIDS and STIs Control Programme (NASCP), Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), identified the gaps in HIV prevention services as poor access to the formal public health sector, adding that PMTCT services at present reaches only about two- third of pregnant women in Nigeria.
According to him, many states are yet to respond to the provision of adequate funding for HIV programmes including PMTCT.
Olugbenga said low pediatric HIV case identification, poor linkage to care and treatment for children living with HIV remain a challenge.
He, however, noted that 90 per cent of the pregnant women who show up at health facilities reporting PMTCT get tested for HIV.
Giving the breakdown of PMTCT service across the country, Olugbenga said Benue is highest with 97 per cent and Plateau lowest with 16 per cent.
On population based PMTCT, he said in the South East, Abia is 38 per cent, Anambra – 21 per cent, Ebonyi – 77 per cent, Enugu – 49 per cent and Imo 33 per cent while in the South South, Akwa- Ibom- 40 per cent, Bayelsa – 15 per cent, Cross River – 37 per cent, Delta -58 per cent, Edo – 24 per cent and Rivers- 19 per cent.