The federal government has said that it is commencing the distribution of a new innovative HIV test kits for testing of pregnant women in the country.
The Deputy Director in the Federal Ministry of Health and a focal person at the National AIDS and STIs Control Programme (NASCP), Dr. Gbenga Ijaodola, said government was about to commence a drive to achieve extensive coverage of HIV testing for pregnant women.
Speaking yesterday at a media workshop on the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV organised by federal Ministry of Information and Culture and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Calabar, Cross River state, Ijaodola said as part of the drive, the agency would be deploying 2.5 million testing kits federal and state health care Institutions.
Ijaodola said the agency has acquired 2.5 million dual test kits capable of testing both HIV and syphilis in pregnant women.
"The federal government and other stakeholders at the state and local government levels and all our implementing partners knows that the gateway to PMTCT is to ensure that you test pregnant women.
"And we test every pregnant woman with the right test kits. One thing that is very unique about this new test kits is that it can diagnose two diseases- HIV and Syphilis using one single drop of blood.
"We think that this will improve our HIV testing coverage in the country. So we are kick starting this at the federal level under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Health. We will ensure that we procure 2.5 million testing kits and distribute them across board. This is a process that is going to take off and our states are already aware of it," he stated.
Ijaodola expressed optimism that with the continued concerted efforts among the stakeholders, the country would be able to make far-reaching progress in coverage of PMTCT and eventually eliminate the HIV scourge.
"If we continue the way we doing things together, I can assure you that very soon we should be able to change the narrative about Mother to Child Transmission of HIV, (PMTCT) coverage in Nigeria.
"We are working with every stakeholder, federal, state and local government level as well as the facility level and all our implementing partners. Our message is clear, that every pregnant woman should be tested and for everyone that is found to be HIV positive, it is not the end of life. In fact, it is the beginning of life.
"It is for them to ensure that they continue to link them and to continue with their treatment and provide them with the right kits. For mothers that are HIV carriers, our message for them is that with the drugs, you will be able to live a quality life and their baby will come safe," he said.
In her presentation, a senior consultant at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Dr. Atana Ewa, said a World Health Organisation (WHO) report showed that 1.8 million children from the sub Saharan Africa are living with HIV.
She also said that more than 90 percent of these children get infected of HIV from their mother during birth.