Olanrewaju Lawal, Birnin-Kebbi
A professor of Allergy Immunology and Infectitious Diseases at the Robert Johnson Wood Medical School, in the US state of New Jersey, Professor Patricia Whitley Williams, has decried the rise in incidences of People Living With HIV and AIDS (PLWHA) in Northwest Nigeria.
Williams, a Division Chief at the Medical School, made the observation on Monday, September 16, in Birnin-Kebbi while giving a lecture at the one day workshop organised by the International Research and Exchange Boards (IREX) in collaboration with the US Department of State, aimed at improving Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health Indices in Kebbi State and Northwest Nigeria.
Prof. Williams noted that the main obstacle in regard to HIV/AIDs prevention is the poor public education and inadequate healthcare centres predominantly in rural Nigeria.
“That is why many youths refuse to disclosed their status, wives and husbands hide their status and new born babies are infected,” the medical academic stated.
The convener of the workshop, Dr Obinna Orjingene, a consultant with UNICEF’s Sokoto Field Office, disclosed that the project was targeted “to develop an advocacy document validated by healthcare providers and managers that can be widely shared for improved healthcare system funding, both from government at all levels and partners agencies.”
According to him, the project is also to address “barriers affecting the health building blocks with the aim of providing sustainable solutions. Leveraging on available resources and integrating maternal and child health programming for better results.”
Earlier, Kebbi State Director of Public Health, Ministry of Health, Mr Mohammed Abdullahi Bubuche, disclosed that the state has 23,834 known PLWHAs as at 2018.
“The state has 4.7 million population, with 950,000 under five and 168,120 under one-year-old. From the data we gathered as at year 2018, we recorded 23,834 PLWHA, 10,000 of them were placed on ART.”
Bubuche listed that the challenges the state is faced with in terms of disease prevention to include: infiltration of infected foreigners into the state; inadequate funding from the international donors; poor facilities at the healthcare centres, among other factors.