Over one million Nigerians on anti-retroviral therapy — Minister

Health Minister, Dr. Isaac Adewole
Health Minister, Dr. Isaac Adewole

Over one million Nigerians were receiving anti-retroviral treatment at the end of June 2017, the government has said.

The minister of health, Isaac Adewole, made the disclosure at the opening ceremony of the 60th National Council on Health held at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta, which had the theme, “Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and the Health Sector: Matters Arising.”

He did not however indicate if the figure included those under the care of private health facilities.

He explained that the ”established number of 1,050,594” was against ”983,980 cases of those being treated reported at the end of last year.” That means that about 66,614 new patients were placed under treatment in 2017.

Mr. Adewole said the government was also implementing other HIV prevention and control programmes including the fast-tracking programme in six states plus the Federal Capital Territory to reduce the scourge.

He pointed out that HIV/AIDS remains a ”persistent threat to the health of Nigerians, further straining the already struggling health care system and compromising the past developmental gains.”

The minister called for a concerted and sustained effort by all those to reduce the transmission of the ailment in Nigeria.

“As at the end of June 2017, the number of individuals placed on antiretroviral therapy in the country is 1,050,594 as against 983,980 reported at the end of last year. The government is also implementing other HIV prevention and control programmes including the fast-track programme in six states plus the FCT to reduce the HIV epidemic in the country,”‎ Mr. Adewole said.

The minister said efforts must be made to reverse the trend whereby over $1 billion is being spent annually on medical tourism.

He said the government would collaborate with state governments in revitalising the Primary Health Care system.

The host governor, Ibikunle Amosun, said only a healthy populate can contribute meaningfully to socio-economic growth of any society.

Mr. Amosun said that while ”the nation was striving to diversify the economy from crude oil, it should realise that only a healthy population can drive this policy.”

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