Political

Nigeria records progress in fight against HIV/AIDS

The Nigerian government says it has made significant progress in the campaign against HIV/AIDS in the country.

Nigeria's Vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo stated this at an event to mark the thirtieth anniversary of World Aids Day in Abuja.

He assured that Nigeria is committed to ending HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, despite resources constraints.

Represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, the vice president noted that the World AIDS Day is all about raising awareness of HIV, promoting the rights of people living with HIV, ensuring access to HIV medicines as well as remembering those infected and affected by the virus.

I am pleased to note that more than ever before, we are closer to ending the AIDs epidemic. Having a HIV diagnosis today implies something very different from what it did 20years ago. Research has delivered improved medicines, technologies and approaches to service delivery and holds even greater promise for what will obtain in the future. Today, with more access to treatment and care,people living with HIV can love healthier and more fulfilling lives. I acknowledge the remarkable achievements made in Nigeria despite our resource constraints, he said.

The vice president added that like many other countries in Africa, Nigeria is committed to the ambitious goal of ending the AIDs epidemic by 2030.

Despite the gains achieved so far, we know that concerted effort will be required to achieve this. I would like to re affirm the commitment of the government in providing sustained political support at the highest level. Furthermore, Government is committed to increase funding for the HIV response and ensuring universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care services. To this end, Government has for the first time ensured that the funds required to keep all those living with HIV on our treatment programme on Taraba and Abuja States is fully accommodated in the 2019 budget. Moving forward, we have committed to support an additional 50,000 persons commencing HIV treatment every year in our budgets. In line with our commitment to support people living with HIV to 'live life positively', we will facilitate the integration of vulnerable members of the HIV community into our poverty alleviation and social intervention programmes, he added.

The Minister of health, Professor Isaac Adewole, said during the occassion that as Nigeria works towards eliminating HIV/AIDS, the citizens must endevour to know their status.

He acknowleged the support of development partners especially the United States Government , the Global Fund for AIDs, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which he said jointly are responsible for keeping at least a million of our countrymen and women living with HIV alive and well.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen we are approaching a new dawn in the National HIV response. As the country gets its HIV numbers right, as we commit to owning and financing the response, we also need to sustain this momentum and adopt new approaches that ensure services are accessible to everyone. As I conduct a HIV self test to know my status, I invite you to get a HIV test today and know your status, he said.

On his part, the Director General of rhe National Agency for the control of Aids, Dr. Sani Aliyu, announced that there is need to sustain prevention efforts.

Another important priority for NACA is to facilitate the local manufacturing of HIV medicines and other relevant commodities as part of the long-term sustainability agenda for the national response. We have now commenced plans in partnership with the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) and National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) to develop a comprehensive framework that will leverage on existing Government's policies to catalyse production of medicines and commodities in country. The local production of high quality and affordable medicines represents the most effective means of ensuring sustainable access to essential medicines. It also contributes to the achievement of other equally important National Socioeconomic objectives, such as job creation, attraction of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and facilitation of knowledge transfer. This integrated approach is in line with Government's overarching strategy for the improvement of the health and wellbeing of citizens, he said.

He also said that NACA has worked on strengthening engagement with the Private Sector in Nigeria through the Nigeria Business Coalition Against AIDS (NIBUCAA) in a bid to increase domestic funding for HIV towards a more sustainable response.

The HIV Trust Fund, which will soon be launched, will provide the platform for more concrete contributions from the private sector. It is our hope that resources that come through this window will help to close the gap in access to antiretroviral therapy for people living with HIV. Improving engagement with the private sector forms part of our larger efforts to enhance local ownership and sustainability of the response. Let me at this point pay a special tribute to the His Excellency the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo GCON, and thank you for your leadership and support towards obtaining a commitment from State Governors to resource the HIV responses in their respective states with up to 1.0% of their states' monthly Federal allocation. Dr. Aliyu said.

There were goodwill messages from development partners and the US government.

And a candle light memorial was held in honour of Nigerians who died from HIV/AIDS.

The theme for the 2018 World Aids Day is Know Your Status.

Source: Voice of Nigeria