Jonathan, governors seek end to increase in HIV infections in Nigeria

President Goodluck Jonathan

Presidential Emergency Response Plan needs N179 domestic investment funding for 2013-2015.

President Goodluck Jonathan has expressed his disappointment at the continued prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the country, adding that the lack of comprehensive planning to mitigate the disease needs to be addressed.

Mr. Jonathan said this at the presentation of the President’s Emergency Plan, PERP for HIV/AIDS in Nigeria for 2013-2015, where he declared that no Nigerian citizen must be allowed to die from HIV henceforth.

The president ascribed the increase in transmission of the virus within the country to the lack of a comprehensive national plan on how to tackle the transmission and management of the disease. A recent UN report identified Nigeria has having the highest number of HIV infections in the world in 2012.

“If we must successfully manage HIV, we must have a comprehensive plan,” Mr. Jonathan said.

He said questions such as how many anti-retroviral drugs doses the country as a whole and individual states need, how to fund the acquisition the drugs, and how to educate Nigerians on the virus and the disease so as to prevent new infections/transmission, need to be asked.

The Emergency Plan, which was presented by the Director General of the National Action Committee on AIDS, NACA, John Idoko, noted that the country needs a total of N179 billion domestic investment fund of which 99 per cent will be allocated to accelerating the implementation of HIV prevention, care and treatment services of HIV/AIDS while the remaining 1 per cent will be used to fund efforts to improve coordination and strengthen national response systems.

Mr. Idoko said the goal of the president’s initiative is to get the country to attain set universal access target of 80 per cent to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care services.

He said the initiative will focus on the 12 states that have the greater burden of the scourge. He said the plan, which has a two-year duration from July 2013 to June 2015 has identified very specific and ambitious delivery targets.

Giving a situational analysis, Mr. Idoko said Nigeria was ranked 2nd highest in Africa in terms of people living with HIV/AIDS- pegged at more than 3.5 million people. With a grossly underfunded response to HIV/AIDS, Nigeria is highly dependent on international funds which account for 75 per cent, with only 25 per cent from domestic funds, he said.

The PERP seeks to avail 80 million Nigerian adults the opportunity to know their HIV status; increase by 80 per cent the number of people on anti-retroviral drugs and; reduce the number of infections due to mother and child transmission by 80 per cent.

During the open technical session which was moderated by the President, the Akwa Ibom State governor, Godswill Akpabio said he was told that state governors were not part of the funding process as it is the business of the State Agencies for the Control of AIDS, SACA, and donor agencies. Mr. Akpabio then accused these agencies of sharing the monies and using it for their personal issues. He also disclosed that in his state, there was only one HIV testing machine, located at the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital.

In his contribution to the session, the Plateau State governor, Jonah Jang, noted that since the beginning of the violent crisis in Jos, the rate of HIV in the state has sky-rocketed. He stated that citizens should be well sensitized especially on habits that aid the spread of HIV.

A representative from the Borno State government lamented that the scourge had taken another dimension in his state following the Boko Haram crisis and subsequent declaration of the state of emergency.

The minister of state for Health, Ali Pate, in his remarks, advocated the proper tracking of results as this will force everyone to be on their toes.


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