An NGO, Virtuous Women Tuesday Fellowship (VMTF), has decried the recent statistics which rated Nigeria high on Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission (MTCT), saying it is “a national disaster caused by inadequate advocacy’’.
Mrs Folashade Alli, the NGO’s Assistant Coordinator, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Lagos that the rate could have been reduced through proper advocacy.
Alli spoke on the sidelines of the organisation’s annual free medical initiative for women in Apapa, Lagos.
NAN reports that the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA)’s recent facts sheet shows that Nigeria has the highest number of HIV infections among children.
It said that MTCT accounts for 90 per cent of HIV infections in children.
The agency also said that an estimated number of HIV positive pregnant women in the Nigeria are 177,993 according to Nigeria Spectrum estimate in 2016.
Also, Nigeria has the highest number of new infections among children, according to the UNAIDS 2013.
Alli said that many of the women were at the risk of imminent `reduction’ through ignorance because they were not well informed and that poverty level was high.
“The recent statistics on the mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS is a national disaster occasioned by the neglect of proper advocacy, and quite unfortunate women are the worst hit.
“It is all about awareness, informing the people about this scourge; many are not well informed and not only that, the high rate of poverty in the country is worrisome.
“The advocacy about HIV/AIDS has been neglected by government and all that are concerned; that is a high risk for all women in Nigeria which can lead to decimation of women population.
“We need to do something about this trend before it is too late not just talking about it alone; we need a national consciousness about the trend to nip it in the bud,’’ she told NAN.
Alli said that high rate of the mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS means that the country had more patients to cater for in the midst of dwindling funds for the free treatment.
She called for increased advocacy and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) strategies.
“Prevention would have helped to reduce the cost through proper advocacy to the populace.
“It is basically about giving the right information to the people because many are now afraid to go to the hospital.
“We should not be overwhelmed by this rate.
“Instead, we should combat the scourge through proper sensitisation of the public because aside this, we have many who still think they cannot afford healthcare.
“We need people to join the vanguard of the fight against inadequate healthcare for our mothers; government cannot do it alone and that is why we are out to support government,’’ Alli said.
NAN also reports that VMTF health initiative is an annual programme designed to provide free health advocacy and treatment for women in Apapa and its environs.
The programme, according to the organisers started about 20 years ago with the sole aim of providing affordable healthcare to all women around Apapa in Lagos, without recourse to age or creed.
Parts of the free healthcare provisions are checkups on Blood level, diabetes, dental and physical examination of breast.
Ambulance bus was also provided by Lagos State government for the programme.