The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has charged the Nigeria’s Federal Government scale-up local funding to close the yawning funding gap in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the country.
Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibe said an end to the spread of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria is possible through collective efforts of the government and its partners.
Sidibe, who spoke in Abuja, Nigeria on a visit to the Director General (DG) of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Professor John Idoko said Nigeria had over the years shown that an end to AIDS is at sight.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria should scale up local funding to close the yawning funding gap,” he said, adding that data available indicated that Nigeria still records a number of children born with HIV.
According to him, if such children were placed on treatment, fatalities could be averted and “with collective funding and effective awareness such should not occur. This development, as he put it, “is capable of reducing the spread of the virus by 96%, which makes an end of AIDS a possibility.”
DG NACA, Idoko said that the fight against HIV/AIDS in Nigeria is very promising, disclosing that with about 7,000 testing sites in the country in addition to many medical outreaches being embarked upon by in many states, NACA was able to test about 90,000 people in 2015.
He said that treatment is essential to ending AIDS, but noted that Nigeria was looking forward to working with all strata of government and the private sector to step up internal funding to achieve the 90-90-90 elimination targets.
“The 90-90-90, a global ambitious treatment target to help end the AIDS epidemic projects that by 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV know their status, 90% of all people diagnosed with HIV receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90% of all people receiving ART will have viral suppression of the virus,” he said.
The DG stated that funding had been a major underlining factor for the campaign against AIDS, calling on government at all levels to key-in to the fight by concerted funding.
He also disclosed that NACA was working with the Ministry of Health and the victim’s fund to reach out effectively to the most vulnerable groups in the internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps with comprehensive testing, treatment and care services.
According to him, “with collective inputs, we can win the war. No one should be left behind. Nigerians should look inwards as a country blessed with abundant resources to see the possibility of producing our own drugs rather than importation from countries like India and other nations around the world.”
Idoko commended the Federal Government for providing funds to support 50,000 patients in two states, saying that the development was a good beginning.