Nigeria produces world’s highest cases of HIV among children — Health Minister

The Health Minister, Professor Isaac Adewole, has described HIV as still a challenge to the country, saying Nigeria remains yet the largest contributor of HIV among children world over.

Adewole, in a media chat on his one year in office, stated that HIV was one of the health challenges the country was faced with and contributing to the nation’s poor health index.

The Health Minister stated that this was part of the problems to be resolved by a new national health policy to be assented to by the Federal Executive Council with the aim of resetting the image, the consciousness and the mindset of people about the health sector.

Adwole lamented that Nigerians no longer have confidence in the health sector because the sector appear to be better known for strike than for services and thus the need for the policy change.

He said the FG’s thrust on health was now pro-poor given the finding that the health of people that are poor and in rural places were worse.

According to him, “in trying to look at the various indicators, we also stumbled on something that was particularly challenging, the healthcare indicators for wealth Nigerians is just like you find in Europe or USA.

“While 95 per cent of educated urban Nigerians will receive antenatal care, only 24.6 per cent of poor, rural people will access antenatal care.

“When you look at those who have skilled birth attendant at delivery, 85 per cent of rich, urban Nigerians will have supervised delivery and their babies are likely to survive. But only 5.7 per cent of poor rural people have supervised delivery. So, they are the ones, who will die during labour, they are the ones who will also have VVF, anaemia and many other things.”

Professor Adewole, then announced the FG’s Rapid Result Initiative (RRI) to ensure better Health for all Nigerians through the provision of quality and affordable health to people within 5 kilometre of their resident.

He declared: “We have made up our mind that we shall deliver that through a reinvigorated primary health care structure, partner with the state to rehabilitate their structure and also take care of the tertiary system.”

Part of the RRI, the minister stated was the commencement of free hernia, cataract, VVF surgical services in 46 federal tertiary institutions earmarked all over the country for the cases.

The minister declared that a chain of laboratories across the country was also been revitalised in preparedness for outbreak and treatment of diseases like Lassa fever.

Adewole muted the idea of a Bank of Health, similar to Bank of Industry or Agriculture, saying it will ensure that people that want to set up healthcare facilities can have access to resources, and thus check medical tourism.

He expressed concern also that no public health facility can treat cancer properly in Nigeria because of the breakdown of their equipment, adding that in 2017, “we want to make sure that at least each of these centres has at least two machines so that even if one breaks down, the other will work. And then we can treat more Nigerians.”