The US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Joint United Nations Programme for HIV/AIDs (UNAIDS), have urged the Nigerian government to ”own the HIV response programme” by assisting in reducing the cost of placing people living with HIV/AIDs on treatment.
Speaking at the 4th National Council of AIDs, in Abuja on Tuesday, the country coordinator of PEPFAR, Shirley Dady, said it will be more cost effective ”when the government of Nigeria takes over the HIV programme at all levels.”
This, she said, will enable PEPFAR locate and place 150,000 more people living with HIV on life saving treatment in the coming year.
“From our perspective, there are several reasons why this may be a positive development. First, a more efficient programme will be more sustainable, secondly, it will be more cost effective once the government of Nigeria takes over the programme at all levels and thirdly, we will be able to locate and place 150,000 more people living with HIV in life saving treatment in the coming year which is, of course, our overreaching goal,” she said.
She however, assured the country of the United States’ continued support in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
In his speech, the Country Director of UNIADS, Erasmus Morah, called for proper monitoring of the programme.
He said, “We are talking about how to make the money work and to make it go further, I submit that about four things that will be needed. One, as a body that ‘oversights’ HIV response in the country, you must ask yourself who is paying the bills, it is very important.
“If you want the money to go further, start by knowing who is paying the bills and how much they are actually paying. You will own the response the day you pay the bill. The figure we have out there will tell you that about 90 per cent of the commodity on HIV is secured with donor money, which is something that is to be addressed.
“We are told that, of the one million Nigerians that are on treatment, 95 per cent of them are paid for by donors. In Nigeria, about 70 per cent of all health expenditure comes from pocket, which is something you cannot run away from,” he said.
He stated that the country must know ”how much is in the account for the fight against HIV”. He added that the programme needs to be properly monitored so as to bring about the desired change in the lives of the people.
In his welcome address, the Director General of the National Agency for Control of AIDS (NACA), Sani Aliyu, called for more efficient utilisation of resources in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
“We need to make our money go further, by exploring ways to increase our efficiency in the delivery of these services,” he said.
He said that with improved efficiency in delivery services, Nigeria will certainly make significant strides towards achieving its HIV national targets and contribute towards achieving global targets to end AIDS by 2030.