As part of global efforts to end Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) as a public health threat, in commemoration of the World AIDS Day on December 1, the Federal Government has renewed its commitment to improve HIV/AIDS responses across the country.
“The Nigerian government is committed to enhancing ownership and sustainability of HIV/AIDS response,” Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, representing President Muhammadu Buhari at the World AIDS Day commemoration in Abuja, Tuesday, said.
Mustapha said, “Federal Government is aware of the huge financial requirements for health, including HIV/AIDS. In this regard, the 2018 budgetary provision for health will witness a substantial increase.”
According to the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), this year’s theme ‘Right to health, making it happen,’ is to highlight the importance of the right to health and challenges that people affected by HIV face in fulfilling that right.
Sani Aliyu, director-general of NACA, said the World AIDS Day was commemorated to unite people around HIV/AIDS response, show support for people living with HIV and remember people who had died of AIDS.
“Since the first case of HIV was reported in Nigeria in 1986, we have averted about 1.5 million deaths and over 5 million new HIV infections.
“There are 3.2 million Nigerians living with HIV, only 1 million are on Antiretroviral Therapy (ART). In Nigeria, it costs about N50,000/year to place a person living with HIV on treatment,” Sani said.
According to Sani, only nine states in Nigeria have more than 50 percent people living with HIV on treatment, and we will continue to push for the inclusion of HIV treatment services in the Nigeria health insurance scheme.
“Globally, Nigeria has the second highest burden of HIV; only second to South Africa. One in every 10 people living with HIV in the world is a Nigerian. We have a responsibility to change this.
“Access to healthcare is a fundamental human right and no Nigerian should be denied of this right,” Isaac Adewole, minister of health, said.
National coordinator of the Network for the People Living with HIV, Victor Omoshehin, said, “We are not victims, our continuous access to medication and our right to healthcare is a fundamental right. Lagos and Kaduna states have owned up their HIV/AIDS response. We need more states to follow.”
“If the world is to end AIDS, we must first end AIDS in Nigeria. If AIDS is to end in Nigeria, we must all be involved,” according to Stuart Symington, United States ambassador to Nigeria.