FG worries over children at risk of contacting HIV/AIDS infection

By Olawale Adewale,The Nigerian Voice, Osogbo

The Federal Government has expressed worry that larger number of children in the country are at the risk of contacting Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) infection unless proactive measures are taken by all stakeholders to save the kids from the imminent danger.

The Head of Child Rights Information Bureau in the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Abuja Olumide Osanyinpeju who is also a Deputy Director in the ministry said the federal government was working relentlessly with stakeholders to achieve an HIV/AIDS free nation, especially with regard to our children.

Speaking at a media dialogue in Calabar, Cross River State today on prevention of Mother-To-Child transmission of HIV/AIDS, Osanyinpeju charged journalists to championing the course of the realisation of the rights of children to live free from HIV/AIDS.

The media dialogue which was organised by the Child Rights Information Bureau of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in collaboration with the United Nations Children's Fund was attended by journalists drawn from various part of the country.

He commended UNICEF for its contributions, support and partnership with the Nigerian Government as well as the consistent effort being made to ensure the wellbeing of the Nigerian child.

His words "We commend UNICEF for all activities being implemented in partnership with the federal government to ensure that the rights of Nigerian children to adequate and standard health care, besides other basic social services, are preserved."

"I also wish to acknowledge the collaboration of Federal Ministry of Health, other line partners, and other Stakeholders in making sure that this intervention is a success. I appreciate the National Aids and STIs Control Programme, and other HIV/AIDS partners here present for always working with us in the best interest of Nigerian children."

"It is worthy to note that it has been a difficult task propagating that children reserve the rights to issues affecting them, the right to live free from diseases, HIV/AIDS in focus here. May we not lose sight of the fact that a large number of Nigerian children are still at risk of infection, a host of them living in our communities under emergencies and insurgencies."

"We must understand that the deprivation of the foregoing is an infringement on the rights of a child. There is need for all to rise up against this menace, as routine transmission may leave life- long scars that may affect the child emotionally and psychologically."

"As you know, government alone cannot fight this cause, hence, the need to collaborate with Agencies, NGOs and other line partners and Organizations to advocate on how best to address the issue."

"We need media to start making the Nigerian people think in the interest of the Nigerian child, to tackle the low level of awareness that exists amongst our people towards the realisation of the health needs of children within the framework of child’s right, and obtaining the desired support from government and institutions.

"I therefore encourage you, to work diligently and develop clear messages that will sensitize and inspire the Nigerian people, and use your stories and reports to create massive awareness and enlighten the people, duty bearers, and indeed all levels of government on the need for prevention and elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

Osanyinpeju urged journalists to mainstream the issue so as to increase the knowledge among spouses, partners and family members, as well as addressing HIV-related stigma and deep gender inequalities in decision making.

"By so doing, it will go a long way in realizing the objective of UNICEF at advancing Children’s rights and enhancing their well being. We must work in line with the United Nations General Assembly Resolution to intensify global efforts to eliminate this menace", Osanyinpeju said.