State Governments commit statutory allocation to HIV treatment

Timothy Choji, Abuja

State Governments in Nigeria have agreed to commit one percent of their monthly federal allocation towards treatment of HIV/AIDS.

Director General of the National Agency for the Control of Aids NACA, Dr Sani Aliyu stated this while speaking to Journalists at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Dr Aliyu said doing so would help raise sustainable funding for HIV and AIDS in Nigeria.

According to the Director General, “The Nigerian government is becoming worried that donor agencies might soon reduce or totally withdraw their support for the country towards HIV/AIDS, thus subjecting about a million people to danger.”

At the moment we have almost one million people on treatment of which about 60,000 are catered for by the federal government of Nigeria through the Taraba and Abia projects. The rest of the one million people are catered for by the United States government that takes about 700, 000 people and Global fund that are responsible for about 200,000; which means that if today the US or any of our major funders decide they are no longer going to fund HIV, we are going to have almost a million Nigerians coming off treatment and I can tell you that as a physician, if that happens, statistically, most of them will be dead in the next five years,” he said.

Dr Sani Aliyu emphasized that the support from donor agencies would certainly come to an end someday. He therefore said Nigeria as a country must take ownership of the response to the disease because according to him, it constitutes national security.

“It’s a national security issue. HIV is now affordable and we as a country need to start taking ownership of the response. As I mentioned to the National economic Council, there is no programme on earth that is open ended. No donor agency will come to you and say I’m going to look after you forever. It will never happen. So eventually, sooner or later, those funds will dwindle and they will go off,” the NACA Director General explained.

He however said the good news is that Nigeria has just crossed over the tipping point for the disease, which means there are now more people going on treatment than having new infections, showing that the epidemic is on a real downward curve in the country.

The Director General said if such a momentum is maintained in the next few years, by the year 2030, Nigeria would achieve a lot in tackling the disease.

“If we maintain that momentum, by 2030 we would be able to achieve the 90-90-90 objective. That is, we know 90% have HIV, 90% are on treatment and 90% are virogically suppressed,” he said.

The NACA Director General said the issue had since been related to State governments through National Economic Council, alongside the need to enrol those receiving treatment for HIV/AIDS in the Health Insurance Scheme of Sates and Local governments, as well as expunge the current charges paid by pregnant women living with HIV/AIDS for antenatal, to boost the prevention of mother to child transmission of the disease.

He said that the three requests were granted by the State Governors but appealed to them to match their words with action.