The Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu
The federal government has approved an additional sum of $100 million annually to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Nigeria, saying the plan was to identify priority attention and increase domestic resources to fight the pandemics.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, thursday disclosed the plan at the 56th National Council on Health meeting held in Lagos with a theme: 'Health Sector Now and Beyond 2015.'
The minister who addressed the council alongside the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), and the Commissioners for Health from the 36 states of the federation, said the federal government earmarked on the funds to fight the scourge.
He promised that HIV/AIDS would continue “to receive presidential attention. At a recently concluded aids special summits on AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, President Goodluck Jonathan launched his comprehensive response plan on the HIV/AIDS.”
Under the plan, the minister acknowledged that the federal government would work in collaboration with the state governments to inject additional $100 million annually in the fight against the HIV/AIDS.
He added that the essence of the plan “is to identify priority attention and increase domestic resources to fight this disease. Nigeria will also hold meeting on this new pact at the United Nations General Assembly later this year. We have also made considerable progress in the fight against malaria.”
The minister also disclosed that the government was making giant stride in the war against malaria, disclosing that between 2010 and now, 60 million insecticide mosquito nets had been distributed to households in the country.
Chukwu said the World Health Organisation (WHO) would in December, formally certify Nigeria as a guinea worm-free country, saying in the last four years, no case of guinea worm infection had been reported in the country.
“There is no more guinea worm in Nigeria. For the past four years, we have not recorded any case of guinea worm infection in this country. The WHO team that visited Nigeria has recommended that the nation should be certified guinea worm-free country. The certificate will be issued to us in December,” he said.
Declaring the National Council on Health meeting open, Fashola decried the poor state of the nation’s health sector, stressing that pragmatic efforts should be put in place to make the sector what it used to be in the 80s, when it was the toast of all.
The governor stated that the only way Nigerians could have access to affordable healthcare services was by adopting the health insurance scheme that would provide universal health coverage to all.
“We have 3,500 private health facilities in Lagos and this comprises laboratories, clinics and about 1,000 hospitals. These private facilities do not run at full capacity because many people cannot have access to them because people are expected to pay for health.
“Our commitment to free healthcare will continue and has continued to increase but there was no way everybody can be reached with the free health system. But we can design an insurance scheme that will create access to health,” he said.