Nigerians living with HIV protest, disrupt government conference

Activities at the first day of the HIV/AIDS preventive conference which started Tuesday in Abuja was disrupted as people living with the disease staged a protest.

Members of the Society for Women and Children Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, SOWCHAN, who trooped out in scores, ran towards a podium where the Minister of State for Health, Osagie Ehanire, was billed to declare the event open.

The event, organized by the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, NACA, and other local and international partners to help prevent the spread of the disease, was put on hold.

The leader of the group, Enya Attah, who has lived with the disease for two decades, but has three of her children negative to the disease, said the protest was “a wake-up call on Government to take full ownership of HIV funding.”

“Nigeria is among countries that have not yet met the Abuja declaration target of 15 per cent of national budget commitment to health,” she said.

The 2016 approved budget for health is 4.13 per cent. Out of the amount allocated to health, 88.54 percent is allocated to current expenditure, while only 11.46 percent is allocated to capital project.

“There should be political will by both federal and state governments to truthfully implement the many strategic plans and research recommendation developed by NACA.

“Nigeria’s heavy dependence on external donor of 75 per cent, while domestic financing is 25 per cent; there is dwindling global funding for HIV in developing countries.
Nigeria government must bridge this funding gap,” she said.

She asked President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint one of the people living with HIV to an office to be created by the government.

She said the office should be known as office of special adviser to the president on HIV/AIDS.

“That is the person who will be providing the president with true situation on HIV response,” she stated.

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