The Nigerian government says it plans to use domestic funds to provide antiretroviral drugs for additional 50,000 HIV patients every year, a development that experts say would boost treatment of the scourge in the country.
According to a press statement released on Tuesday, President Muhammadu Buhari disclosed this plan at a high-level side event during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York, USA.
The event was convened by the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, in collaboration with UNAIDS, the agency coordinating the UN efforts against HIV/AIDS.
The side event was meant to accelerate action and get countries on the fast track to end AIDS by 2030.
President Buhari, who was represented by the Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, NACA, Sani Aliyu, said the government appreciates the need to contribute to the funding of the fight against AIDS.
“We recognise the impact of the global financing environment and the need for shared responsibility in order to end AIDS in Nigeria by 2030,” he said.
“Thus, we have committed to increased domestic resourcing of the AIDS response. In the light of this, the Government of Nigeria is committed to maintaining the current 60,000 plus clients on life-saving medicines and an additional 50,000 new clients per year.”
In his reaction, Mr. Aliyu welcomed the federal government’s commitment and said it could help end AIDS in Nigeria by 2030.
“We are encouraged by the enthusiasm that the Federal Government is showing towards putting more of its own financial resources to the HIV response.
“This is one sure way of helping Nigeria to end AIDS by 2030,” said the Mr. Aliyu.
The UNAIDS Country Director for Nigeria, Erasmus Morah, said UNAIDS is thrilled by the new momentum and firm commitments that the Nigerian government is bringing to its HIV response.
“We are eager to support the process of putting more people living with HIV in Nigeria on treatment,” he said.
Other important new commitments announced by President Buhari included working with partners to conduct a national population-based HIV survey to gather new evidence to guide Nigeria’s response, a plan to establish a private-sector funded AIDS Trust Fund as well as securing of HIV funding commitments from the states.
He also expressed commitment to offering an enabling environment for the local manufacture of antiretroviral drugs in support of Nigeria’s policy to immediately put any person who tests positive for HIV on treatment.
With over three million patients, Nigeria has the second highest number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the world.