- FG pledges free treatment for 50,000 victims
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The National Action Against AIDS (NACA) has said a total of $6.2 billion has been spent to identify and treat 70 per cent of the estimated 1,080,000 Persons Living with HIV (PLHIV) in the country.
It said the sum of $1.2 billion of the amount came from domestic sources, while the balance came as grants from donor agencies and development partners.
Speaking at an event to mark this year’s World Aids Day on Tuesday in Abuja, the Director General of NACA, Dr. Gambo Aliyu, said the country has continued to make great strides in her response to the HIV pandemic with the collaborative efforts of development partners.
He said: “HIV prevalence in the last 18 years has reduced from a peak of 5.8 per cent in 2001 to 1.3 per cent in 2018. Implying that 13 out of 1,000 persons selected randomly in Nigeria are now likely to be positive. Last year, 44,830 Nigerians were estimated to have died from HIV/AIDS.
“We have spent $6.2 billion to identify and treat 70 per cent of the estimated 1,080,000 Persons Living with HIV (PLHIV) and $1.2 billion of this was from domestic sources.”
Aliyu also disclosed that self-testing for HIV is now a reality in Nigeria.
He however said that the fight against HIV has not been spared by the recent COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected the provision of HIV services across the country with a six-month interruption in services.
He said that the 2020 World AIDS Day annual lecture with the topic “Galvanizing the Private Sector towards Fostering Country Ownership of HIV Testing and Treatment Services”, will address a key area of the National HIV Response yet untapped.
The DG acknowledged the assistance from the United States Government, United Nations Joint Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) and the UN system, through global fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
In his remark, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SSG), Mr. Boss Mustapha, said that President Muhammadu Buhari has demonstrated his commitment to actualizing the target of eradicating HIV by approving the funding of additional 50,000 persons on treatment annually.
He said: “The funding of additional 50,000 persons on treatment annually by President Muhammadu Buhari is a clear testimony of our commitment to global solidarity and shared responsibility to leave no one behind and no one dies as a result of HIV. The approved federal budget for 2020 has adequate provision for HIV to cover this presidential commitment.
“Finally, be assured of government’s commitment to ensure human rights are respected, rights of women and girls, as well as gender equality are at the centre of providing health services as we work towards zero new HIV infections by 2030 and attaining the 95:95:95 global HIV/AIDS targets.”
The SGF urged the private sector to work more with NACA and the Nigerian Business Coalition against AIDS for a sustained access to life saving medicines, vaccines and diagnostics.
He also urged drug manufacturers in Nigeria to work towards the production of anti-retroviral drugs and HIV test kits within the country.