The Nigerian government has made new commitments to use domestic funds to provide antiretroviral drugs to an additional 50,000 people living with Human Immuno Virus (HIV) each year in the country.
Government’s commitment was announced in a speech by President Muhammadu Buhari at the just concluded high-level side event convened by the President of Uganda, His Excellency Yoweri Museveni, in collaboration with UNAIDS, during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York, USA.
The side event was meant to accelerate action and get countries on the fast track to end AIDS by 2030
The Director General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr. Sank Aliyu, who read the statement on behalf of President Buhari at the event, said: “We recognise the impact of the global financing environment and the need for shared responsibility in order to end AIDS in Nigeria by 2030.
“Thus, we have committed to increased domestic resourcing of the AIDS response. In the light of this, we are committed to maintain the current 60,000 plus clients on life saving medicines and an additional 50,000 new clients per year,” President Buhari said.
He announced that Nigeria had already put more than one million people living with HIV on treatment.
Meanwhile, various local and international health organisations have lauded the move, describing it as a positive way to eradicating HIV/AIDS in the country.
Dr. Aliyu in a statement on behalf of NACA, said the Agency was encouraged by the enthusiasm shown by the federal government towards putting more of its own financial resources to the HIV response. “This is one sure way of helping Nigeria end AIDS by 2030,” he said.
The Country Director, United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Dr. Erasmus Morah said the UN body was thrilled by the new momentum and firm commitments that President Buhari is bringing to HIV response. “We are eager to support the process of putting more people living with HIV in Nigeria on treatment,” he added.
Other important new commitments announced by President Buhari included working with partners to conduct a national population-based HIV survey to gather new evidence to guide Nigeria’s response, a plan to establish a private-sector funded AIDS Trust Fund as well as securing of HIV funding commitments from the States.
He also expressed commitment to offering an enabling environment for the local manufacture of antiretroviral drugs in support of Nigeria’s policy to immediately put any person who tests positive for HIV on treatment.