The United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC) on Tuesday disclosed that it will ramp-up interventions to support the Nigerian Government to achieve zero infected babies with HIV, Hepatitis B and Syphilis.
It stated that through investment in testing and treatment commodities and services, coupled with capacity building for healthcare workers, Nigeria can curb the increase of infections from mother to their babies.
Lafiya360 reports that the US CDC also stressed that asides providing support to end mother-to-child-transmission of HIV, Hepatitis B and Syphilis, it will also support adolescents and young adults who tend to be adversely and disproportionately more affected.
Speaking during a media roundtable in Abuja, the Country Director of the US CDC, Dr. Mary Boyd, said: “Maternal mortality rates in the developed world vs the developing world are vastly different. In the developed world, we are looking at one in 20 for every 100,000 women. For sub-saharan Africa, we are looking at 1,000 deaths per 100,000. In the developed world, for neonatal, the numbers are less than 5 babies for every 1,000 live births. But in Africa, we are looking at between 12 to 35 deaths per 1,000 life births.
“The issue of maternal and child mortality is an issue of health equity. If before COVID-19 we had doubts about solving issues in the developing world, but COVID-19 re-oriented all of us to understand that issues affecting any part of the world will eventually affect the entire world.
“For us as the US Government, this is an area we commit to continue to support countries to overcome.”
She added: “In Nigeria, the drivers of mortality remain primarily infections. A lot of these infections are preventable and/or treatable. Second is neonatal disorders. If you look at the babies with neonatal disorders, some of them are because of vaccine preventable diseases in their mothers. We, therefore, must support the mother and baby to do well with regards to infections.
“Globally, we have made progress. Recently, we celebrated 20 years of PEPFAR. One of those milestones that we celebrated was 5.5 million babies that were born HIV-free to HIV-infected mothers.
“The global decline in neonatal mortality in babies is not declining as fast as other age groups. So, we still need to double down our efforts in these areas. If we can put in place interventions like treatment, vaccinations, then it can save more lives. We believe that it is possible to achieve zero infected babies for HIV, Hepatitis B and Syphilis.”
In his remarks, the National Coordinator of the National AIDS and STDs Control Programme, Dr. Bashorun Adebobola, National Coordinator, said: “There is a link between Antenatal Care (ANC) attendance and Prevention of Mother-to-child-transmission (PMTCT) of HIV. We are expanding it to Hepatitis B and Syphilis in order to achieve zero transmission and infected babies.
“The Nigerian government is committed to ensuring women attend ANC clinics. This will help to ensure that there is no infection transferred to children from their mothers. We are focusing on community-centred interventions to ensure that women attend antenatal and postnatal care in healthcare centres.”
In his presentation, Dr. Jerry Gwamna, Program Director with the US CDC, while speaking about his organization’s effort in achieving zero infected children for HIV, Hep B and Syphilis in Nigeria, said: “Nigeria accounts for about one-third of all cases of Mother-to-child-tramsmission (MTCT) of HIV globally. This means Nigeria contributes 30 per cent of the global MTCT burden in the world at any given year.
“The US CDC is committed to the prevention of new HIV infections among women of reproductive age; prevention of unintended pregnancies among women living with HIV; prevention of transmission from a pregnant or breastfeeding woman living with HIV to her baby; provisions of appropriate treatment, care (prophylaxis) and support to mother living with HIV, their children and families.
“We build the capacity of the health workers to be able to provide prevention of Mother-to-child-transmission (PMTCT) services. There is the need to enlighten women on the need to visit facilities where they can get skilled attention. We also need to help community members to know why postnatal clinics are important.”