18 January 2016

Nigeria: '58,000 Nigerian Infants Infected With HIV Per Year'

The executive director of ONE, a non-governmental organisation, Jamie Drummond, has said that about 58,000 Nigerian infants were being infected with HIV from their mothers yearly.

Mr. Drummond stated this on Monday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.

He noted that many maternal and child mortality occurred in the country resulting from lack of good governance and adequate data to prioritise the health sector.

"One child in every seven in the world who dies of preventable, treatable diseases every year in the whole world is a Nigerian child.

"One out of seven mothers who dies anywhere in the world is a Nigerian mother and every year 58,000 Nigerian infants catch HIV from their mothers who love them because they didn't get the drugs to stop the transmission of HIV from mother to child.

"These are completely treatable, preventable things and Nigeria has the resources to stop all of these from happening with good governance dependent on good data and accountability," said Mr. Drummond.

According to him, Nigerians need to demand good governance, promote the fight against corruption and encourage the existence of high profile data to utilise the country's resources wisely.

He further added that the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, would require more funding and political space to enable the bureau achieve its objectives.

"The people of Nigeria need to demand good governance, every single person in Nigeria says the same thing; they need to demand the promotion of the fight against corruption, transparency and good governance.

"When you have transparency and good governance everything else goes better, when you don't have that, you cannot say that the most important thing is health or agriculture.

"If someone should weigh the magic wand to provide more political space for the National Bureau of Statistics, provide more funding for it and allow it more independence, I think that can change things," he said.

Besides, Mr. Drummond said the relevant authorities needed to monitor the implementation of the budget.

"Journalists and relevant stakeholders need to follow the budget because they are activists about facts.

"But they cannot do that if the budgets are not open and if they can't get statistics of what that money have been spent on and after a while people lose the focus of asking questions about following the money.

"Demanding to follow the money and for better governance is the way to improve the lives of the people, so that the money in the health sector will be better spent," said the executive director.

However, he observed that Nigeria had the manpower and entrepreneurs that could work effectively to ensure adequate keeping of data.



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