Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari calls for an end to HIV/AIDS…..UNGA 2015

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari calls for an end to HIV/AIDS, high drug prices, and implementation of the SDGs at the 70th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.


See text below :

Topic : “Strengthening The Means of Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and Ensuring an AIDS-free Generation By 2030 Through The Elimination Of Mother To Child Transmission of HIV. A Dual Imperative For Nigeria”.


Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, I welcome you to this important event. Let me express Nigeria’s sincere appreciation to UN-AIDS for the support and collaboration in organizing this event.

2. We are on the threshold of history as world leaders adopt the successor development agenda to the Millennium Development Goals. For over 30 years, HIV as a public health challenge has been causing havoc and untold hardship in virtually every part of the world. To date, several million children have been orphaned and some communities have been devastated, while economic activities have been disrupted.

3. Unfortunately, Sub -Saharan Africa bears a disproportionate burden of this epidemic. The good news is that the effort of the global community has resulted in greater control, less spread and better management.

4. Furthermore, we have made significant progress towards the interception of mother to child transmission of HIV. In 2014 alone, over 3 million pregnant women were tested for HIV and 63,000 of these tested women, accessed anti – retroviral therapy.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
5. What is required in our continued fight against HIV/AIDS is improved health delivery system, education, and cheaper production of anti – retroviral drugs through technology exchange. Our countries should also look at the whole field of medicare and strengthen our partnership with all stakeholders including the civil society, inter- faith and cultural bodies for education and dissemination of information at all levels. Nigeria will also like to call upon all pharmaceutical companies for more cooperation and understanding in reducing the cost of anti – retroviral drugs through production of generic items. Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates.

6. Nigeria will continue to work with development partners and key stakeholders to strengthen the means of implementation of the SDGs as elaborated in the Post- 2015 Development Agenda. At the continental level, Nigeria remains fully committed to the outcome of the Abuja process as evident in the 2002 Declaration, the Action Framework on Roll – Back Malaria. In addition, the 2013 Abuja + 12 Declaration is a strong commitment towards eliminating HIV and AIDS in Africa by 2030. Globally, the United Nations Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS of 2011 is a major reference point for intensifying efforts to eliminate the epidemic.

7. Nigeria appreciates the support of our development partners for their support and commitment to the total eradication of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria as well as other deadly communicable diseases, for example Ebola, when an epidemic arises.

8. I therefore encourage you to continue in your efforts to sustain the fight against infant and maternal deaths, HIV and AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and other communicable diseases, high on the global development agenda.

9. Let us work together to make HIV and AIDS history by 2030.

10. I thank you

Photo credit : Aghaeze Sunday



In the past two months, various states in Nigeria  marked the Maternal, New born and Child Health week; popularly referred to as MNCH week. The MNCH week is an essential part of the Integrated Maternal Newborn and Child health (IMNCH) strategy, which was adopted at the National Council of Health in 2007 to strengthen access to quality health services, in order to improve maternal health and reduce child mortality in line with the millennium development goals (MDGs) 4 and 5. The MNCH week is implemented by providing a combination of proven interventions; which includes Immunization, Antenatal Care, Nutrition, HIV Counselling and Testing, long lasting insecticide-treated nets distribution, health promotion (hand washing, early initiation and exclusive breast feeding, hygiene and sanitation etc.

A strategic intervention like the MNCH week has become very vital over the years in addressing Nigeria’s high maternal and child mortality rates, and high mother-to-child transmission of HIV.  Although Nigeria has made great progress in maternal and child health, current statistics are still very unsettling. According to UNICEF, Nigeria loses about 2,300 children under five and 145 women of childbearing age daily; making Nigeria the 2nd largest contributor to the maternal and under-five mortality rate globally.  Nigeria also accounts for about 30% of the burden in mother-to-child-transmission (MTCT) of HIV in the world, which is also very high compared to most African countries. It is very important to note that beyond MTCT, HIV/AIDS is also one of the largest contributors to infant mortality in the country.  Recently, WHO declared Cuba as the first country in the world to eliminate-mother-to-child transmission of HIV, a very enviable feat. While countries like Botswana and South Africa have reduced transmission rates to 3% and 7% respectively, according to the 2013 UNAIDS global progress report.

Various factors have been identified as responsible for Nigeria’s poor maternal and child health statistics; such as low access and utilization of quality healthcare services, low literacy level, poor healthcare practices, inadequate skilled human resource, funding issues, low awareness and distance from healthcare centers-especially in hard to reach communities, among others.  However, a recent visit to the field, specifically primary healthcare centers in very remote areas highlighted another contributory factor, which may not be receiving the desired attention in our quest to drastically reduce maternal and infant mortality rates – Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs).

In virtually every community, facilities recorded high Antenatal Care (ANC) attendance, but recorded abysmal delivery figures. In one of the facilities, ANC attendance for the month of April was over 20 women but delivery was just 3.  The facility head explained that 17 of their women delivered with the Traditional Birth Attendants and the women only visited the facility for immunization or when complications arise. The great disparity in delivery figures is also supported by a report from UNICEF which reveals that only 35% of deliveries are attended by skilled birth attendants. Further discussions revealed that issues of complications and transmission of HIV to children are recurrent. While some facilities explained that integration between them and TBA’s have been quite successful and helpful (TBA’s refer pregnant women to facilities after delivery for the necessary examinations and follow-up); others decried the underutilization of the healthcare centers and risks women are exposed to when they visit TBAs.

TBAs have been defined by the WHO “as a person who assists the mother during childbirth and who initially acquired her skills by delivering babies herself or through an apprenticeship to other TBA’s”.  They are often not formally trained, but are usually respected elderly women in their communities.   TBA’s play a very pivotal role in maternal and child health; because they somewhat bridge the gaps in supporting women with deliveries especially in communities where the closest health center is many miles away.  The potential of TBA’s cannot be underestimated, which has necessitated research studies and training programs to improve their skills.  Unfortunately, my visits to these communities reveal that more needs to be done.

Deliveries with TBA’s have been tainted with use of unsterilized tools, unskilled personnel, poor environmental conditions, and little or no knowledge of PMTCT, hence contributing to high maternal and infant mortality and MTCT of HIV rates. Interactions with facility workers also revealed that most of these women are influenced by religious leaders in their communities and cultural beliefs; leading to high patronage of TBA’s.  The issues raised in these facilities reveal that TBAs and the role they play in maternal and child health needs to be revisited and necessary strategies put in place across the entire country, to ensure that women and children are not at risk.   The following may be considered:

  • Integration of health facilities and TBAs should be made compulsory – TBAs should refer pregnant women to facilities for delivery and counselling. Facility personnel can also be invited to provide support for TBAs, where distance to the facility is a huge issue.
  • Every local government secretariat should have a TBA desk and make it mandatory for TBAs to be registered and accredited for easy monitoring.
  • TBAs should be constantly trained and carried along in various health programs and thematic areas, at state and local government levels.
  • Communities should be provided with mobile vans and head TBAs provided with mobile phones, to enable mobility and communication for effective transfer of women in labor to health centers.
  • Community awareness, door-to-door education should be revitalized to encourage women to visit health centers and the benefits.
  • Above all, quality service delivery in health centers and healthcare workers needs to be strengthened and sustained.


AHF, Partners and Celebrities Light up Atlanta : Vote To End HIV.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation ( AHF )  and  partners lit up the city of Atlanta for a good cause this past weekend.

Stars like the legendary Patti La’belle;  Common and renowned activist Rev. Al Sharpton gathered for the Vote To End HIV concert ; exactly 50 years after voting rights were extended to African Americans.

The African American community still accounts for high HIV rate in the United States and the concert was a crucial reminder that we all have a role to play in ending HIV.

For more information and photos,  visit


HIV News making the rounds …….Milestones

In the past few weeks , the HIV/AIDS community has seen some tremendous progress and achieved great milestones.

UNAIDS officially informed the world that the goal of placing 15 million people on life saving treatment by year 2015 has been reached nine months ahead of schedule; a feat which demonstrates that ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 is possible.  This great news is coming on the heels of the global transitioning from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

There has been decline in new infections, AIDS related deaths and reduction in drug pricing among others. Some countries like Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Ethiopia in Sub-Saharan Africa recorded visible success in halting and reversing the epidemic.  Despite this achievement, the HIV/AIDS community can not rest on its oars just yet , as there is still a lot to be done. The criminalization of HIV, low domestic funding, cut back in donor funding, high prevalence in women and girls, poor lab monitoring, and drug stock-outs are issues which require urgent intervention.


New Consolidated guidelines on HIV Testing Services  :  WHO also released the new consolidated guidelines on HIV Testing Services ; which can be summarized in 5Cs – Consent, Confidentiality, Counselling, Correct test results and Connection.

See :

The 8th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention is currently ongoing in Vancouver , Canada. Visit the  daily updates.



The month of July started pretty hopeful for members, partners, organizations and service providers in the HIV/AIDS response globally, as news trickled in that the World Health Organization, had validated elimination of mother-to-child transmission (EMTCT) of HIV and syphilis in Cuba.

This validation makes Cuba the first Country in the world to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis. A feat that is not only commendable but also reinforces that an AIDS Free Generation is possible.

While Cuba may have eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV , most countries still grapple with Mother-To-Child Transmission of HIV, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.  In 2013 , about 240,000 children were born with HIV (WHO).

We hope that Cuba can share her best practices on EMTCT with the rest of the world, and more countries will join Cuba in recording great success in their HIV/AIDS response.

WHO | WHO validates elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis in Cuba.