Adequate funding is the only way to meet the target set for the elimination of HIV/AIDS by 2030, the Director General of National Agency for the Control of AIDS, Sani Aliyu, has said.
Mr. Aliyu spoke in Abuja on Tuesday at the opening of the 3rd National Council on AIDS, with the theme: “Nigeria’s HIV/AIDS Response: Taking Charge of Our Destiny.”
He stressed that if the country must win the fight to eliminate the scourge, it must act now.
He said to meet the target set for the elimination of HIV/AIDS by 2030, it was necessary that all the tiers of government increase funding of HIV/AIDS programme.
Mr. Aliyu lamented the inability of the country to fund HIV/AIDs programme. He said with donor funding, especially by the country’s biggest contributors, PEPFAR, dwindling from $488,614,277 (76 per cent) in 2012 to 358,614,280 (70.8 per cent) in 2016, the Nigerians have to take charge of their destiny
“If we have to achieve the test and treat strategy of ensuring that 90 per cent of the populace know their status, 90 per cent of those tested must be placed on ART and 90 per cent of persons on treatment will have viral suppression to prevent zero AIDS related deaths.”
Mr. Aliyu stressed that state governments have no choice but to take ownership of the programme by providing funds.
“For those of you who have budget line for the disease, I urge you that you keep it up, and for those who don’t have budget line for HIV, now is the time to do so. We should know that donor funds are dwindling”, he said.
While stating his vision for the agency, the Director General stated that people should understand the fact they are not only to survive the transmission, but that the epidemic should be defeated.
The National Council on AIDS is a creation of the Act establishing NACA and the highest technical decision-making body in Nigeria on HIV/AIDS. The purpose of the Council is to provide technical direction on all HIV/AIDS issues in the country.
Supporting Mr. Aliyu’s argument, the President of Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, NEPWHAN, Victor Omoseye, urged government to set up a National Aids Funds like every other countries.
“One way forward is for us to have a National Aids Trust Fund that can take charge of domestic resources.
Citing countries like the UK, Uganda and Botswana where the trust has worked, Mr. Omoseye posited that “whatever any country is bringing to any country will be a support to the National AIDS Trust Fund.”
While commending the effort of NACA, Mr. Omoseye said that a lot people were now accessing treatment than in 2007.
“There is now less discrimination. Today, collectively, we are moving the nation forward.
“Though we still need to put our hands together to do more. One way for us to take our destiny into our hands is for us to sustain the national response,” he said.