A community of people living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria is calling for the establishment of a national trust fund to finance the national HIV/AIDS response.
The group made the call at a meeting of the National Council On Aids in Abuja to discuss sustainable financing options for HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.
According to them, the current financing mechanism with donor partners contributing over 70% of the national funding for HIV/AIDS is not sustainable.
According to the 2008 report of the United Nations Program On HIV/AIDS, 3.1% of people between the age of 15 and 49 were living with HIV/AIDS as at 2007.
That prevalence rate led to the formation of the National Council On Aids in 2007 to mobilize states resources against the ravaging effects of the HIV pandemic.
Ten years after, members of the National Agency for the Control of Aids say the current funding mechanism with government contributing less than 30% of total funding is no longer sustainable.
“The current HIV funding in Nigeria is not sustainable. It is driven primarily by international donors. We need to take our destinies in our hands,” the Director General said.
The National Coordinator of the Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS also appealed to the council to consider a national trust fund for HIV/AIDS intervention.
“One way forward for us to own our destiny and take charge is for us to have a national aids trust fund that can be able to take charge of domestic resources.
“We need not wait for statutory allocation every year, we need not wait for the donors to come and help us all the time,” he said.
However, a member of the House of Reps Committee on AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria emphasized the need for transparency in the administration of funds and drugs for people living with HIV/AIDS.
“We have to make sure that we eradicate corruption from our daily lives. Sometimes people go the clinics, they cannot access these drugs but then you can pay money from outside and you get these drugs. That is corruption.
“So in as much as we are looking at system strengthening at this level, we must all make sure that we get to the end users and make sure that these drugs are given to them especially because the finance is not going to be there as it used to be.”
There are currently about 3.4 million people living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria with an annual death rate of 180,000.
Experts say the situation could get worse if a sustainable financing option is not devised in the face of dwindling donor funding.
The Nigerian government has launched a national guideline for the treatment, prevention and care for people living with HIV/Aids in Nigeria as part of the activities to mark the 2016 World Aids Day.
The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole at a conference in Abuja, stated that the new guideline will provide the needed guide for government and development partners towards eliminating new infections.
For four days, representatives of the federal government, development partners in the health sector and networks of people living with HIV and Aids converged to celebrate the 2016 World Aids Day in the FCT.
The Minister of Health who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, gave the assurance that government would give more commitment to funding HIV prevention efforts while appealing for prudent use of resources.
“I am aware of the challenges that have risen in the last few years with regards to the delivery of HIV services in the country. I hereby reaffirm our commitment and ensure accountability and transparency in the HIV sector,” he stated.
He, however, advised that funds earmarked for the control and treatment of the virus must be used judiciously.
The Minister then proceeded to launch the national guideline for the treatment and control of HIV and Aids in Nigeria
Prior to this, the Country Director for the United States Centre for Disease Control, Hank Tomilinson, explained how much the American government has invested in treatment and care for HIV in Nigeria with the belief that more could be achieved.
“Nigeria has since 2003 received almost four billion US dollars to address HIV prevention in Nigeria. So far the results are encouraging but we are not satisfied,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Secretary of the Network of People Living With Aids in Nigeria (NEPWA), Abdulkadri Ibrahim, decried the lack of access to medications by his members
“We have less than one million that are having ARV treatment. We have a long way to go. Nigeria accounts for 3.5 million people living with HIV/Aids in this country. We have to fast-track anti-retroviral therapy,” he urged.
The Director General of the National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA), Sani Aliyu, described the current status of the virus and the challenges he faces trying to control its spread.
“Almost one in ten people living with HIV globally are in Nigeria. About 600 people acquire the infection every day in our country.
“Now is the time to tackle the challenge of inadequate domestic funding, shrinking donor support, a weak health care support system and a poorly coordinated national response,” he said.
Nigeria recorded 250,000 new infections in 2015, raising the profile of the virus in Nigeria to 3.5 million people.
Only an estimated 800,000 of this population have access to medications.
The National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA) says Nigeria has done well with funds it received from the World Bank Assisted Project towards the elimination of the HIV/AIDS virus which presently stands at below 2% prevalence rate.
The Director, Partnerships Coordination of NACA, Emmanuel Alhassan, gave the statistics in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, at a HIV Programme Development Project retreat (HPDP 11) held by staff of NACA.
NACA staff from various departments and units gathered to look at the work plan that it has with the World Bank Assisted Project towards ensuring that it meets the project development objectives within the timeline it has.
And with just about eight months to the end of the timeline, appraisal on how the funds were utilized towards eradicating the virus became necessary.
According to Alhassan, the retreat would help team members rebuild strategies on how to provide better services to infected patients and possibly get a zero prevalence rate latest by 2030 if the intervention from World Bank is renewed.
Deputy Director, Partnerships Coordination, Dr. Funke Oki, said that NACA has gone a long way in this fight even in the face of challenges but a lot still needs to be done.
The present World Bank Assisted Project is expected to end in February 2017.
The National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA) says discrimination against people living with HIV remains a major challenge to eliminating new infections.
This is coming one year after the National HIV and AIDS Anti-discrimination Bill was signed into law.
The Director-General of NACA, Professor John Idoko, lamented that continued discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS was an obstacle to achieving the 90% reduction of new infections and death by the year 2030.
Professor Idoko made the remarks at a gathering to unveil the popular version of the HIV and Aids Anti-discrimination Law in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
The Country Program Manager, AIDS Health Care Foundation, Adetayo Towolawi, said the event was organised to enable less educated people living with HIV/AIDS know and enforce their rights.
The National Secretary of the Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWAN), Abdulkadri Ibrahim, also said that despite the enactment of the law, discrimination is making access to treatment difficult for their members.
More than 2,000 people in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State, north central Nigeria were beneficiaries of the free medical outreach programme organised by the National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA).
The 4-day programme was targeted at the rural dwellers with prevention messages on HIV/Aids, diagnosis and treatment of some ailments, as well as clinical consultation and referrals of other diseases that could not be handled during the outreach.
Services were provided for the diagnosis and treatment of several ailments ranging from hypertension, malaria, deworming of children, random blood sugar test and diabetes among others.
Some of the beneficiaries shared their experiences on the exercise. They said it has brought relief to them, considering many rural dwellers could not afford the high cost of treatment in the hospitals.
The member representing Barkin Ladi/Riyom constituency in the House of Representatives commended NACA for choosing the constituency for the medical outreach.
Mr Istifanus Gyang expects the tempo to be sustained through massive community driven campaign and provision of health facilities to the rural areas across the nation.
About 2,500 people of Zariagi/Kabba junction in Adavi Local Government Area of Kogi State have benefited from a free medical outreach.
At the outreach, medical personnel attended to them on various heath challenges.
The free medical outreach, which was jointly organised by National Agency for Control of Aids (NACA) and Centre for Health Education, Economics Rehabilitation and Social Security (CHEERS) is expected to last four days in Adavi and Lokoja Local Government Areas of the state.
In his opening remarks on Monday, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Health Matters, Dr. Stephen Olorunfemi, addressed the people on what the programme was all about and how it would go a long way in assisting the less privilege in the area.
The Team Leader, Mr Peter Shakari, who spoke to reporters, noted that the free medical outreach would afford the people of the area the opportunity to know their HIV/AIDS status, sugar and blood pressure level
The Representative of the Kogi State Agency for Control of Aids (KOSACA), Mrs Zainab Lawal, also told reporters that the programme was aimed at detecting people who have just been infected with diseases.
The programme will continue in Adankolo in Lokoja Local Government Area of the State.
Residents of communities in Njikoka Local Government Area are receiving free tests and medical treatment from the National Aids Control Agency (NACA) and the Anambra State AIDS Control Agency (ANSACA).
The exercise is part of a four-day multi-disease campaign outreach with continuous medical attention from the NACA and ANSACA
The programme tagged “Getting to Zero HIV/AIDS and Multi Diseases”, presents opportunity for the people to receive free tests for HIV, Malaria, Diabetes, Hypertension and de-worming for children, with appropriate medication to treat the illnesses diagnosed at no cost.
According to the Project Coordinator, Mrs Rosemary Ejike, the initiative, aside addressing the medical needs of the people in the rural communities, would create more awareness about HIV/AIDS which would bring drastic reduction in the contraction and spreading of the virus.
Abagana, Enugwu-ukwu, Nimo and other neighbouring towns received the free health service at St. Martins Catholic Church, Abagana on Saturday.
In their hundreds, the people gathered to receive free medical tests and treatment, which the Project Coordinator said would last for four days, over 5,000 persons targeted.
She said the outreach had also addressed the issue of HIV and AIDS and that it would no longer cause panic in the communities.
Aside providing drugs in abundance and Treated Nets for distribution, the Federal Government was prepared for the outreach as the medical team had all the necessary and even sophisticated equipment for effective service with a clear cut strategy to meet the required audience for awareness and treatment.
Beneficiaries, Florence Nebeolisa and Reverend Father Christopher Nwaonicha spoke glowingly of the positive impact of the programme and requested that the outreach be extended to those in very remote areas.
While the commendations went on, one of the doctors in the medical team, Dr. Emmanuel Uzoma, advised beneficiaries, who have serious ailments like diabetes and hypertension, to follow up on medical check-up in any nearby General Hospital in order to ensure stability in their health.
Treated Nets were also distributed to nursing mothers to protect the children from mosquito bites and Malaria.
Altogether, the gesture from the Federal Government in collaboration with the state government was highly commended and for the people, they asked that the initiative be sustained so that those who could not afford medical expense would not be left to die due to minor and treatable ailments.
The National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA) has extended its public health awareness campaign to rural communities in Benue State.
The agency has been offering free medical services and HIV/Aids testing.
An Assistant Director of Strategic Knowledge Management on HIV/AIDs in NACA, Mr Lawrence Kwaghar, said that the free medical services is aimed at reducing the infection rate and to improve on Nigeria’s public health concerns.
Some beneficiary of the four-day free medical services in Tarka Local Government commended the NACA for the initiative.
They said that it has afforded them the opportunity to get tested, know their health status and better their standards of living.
In Imo state, several people trooped into the Premier Primary School at Amaifeke in Orlu Local Government for the NACA/Sure National HIV testing and counselling.
The Programme Director, Mrs Agatha Thomas, said that the essence of the programme is to create public awareness to members of the public to avail them the opportunity to have access to some basic health services which is being funded by the federal government.
Also speaking, the Programme Coordinator for Imo State, Nwokedi Onyekachi, said that the agency is working round the clock with massive mobilization and sensitization exercise to ensure that by 2030 over 95% of Nigerians would have done the HIV test so as to reduce the problem of stigmatization and victimization.
Lead agencies, donors and partners in the fight against HIV/AIDS have said that Nigeria must fund the HIV-AIDS fight if it hopes to achieve the 3 zeros in HIV related deaths, infection and discrimination.
The Director General of the National Agency for the Control of Aids, NACA, Professor John Idoko said that it would cost about 50,000 Naira to put one HIV positive person on treatment for one year and for this Nigeria needs to invest 262billion Naira over the next two years to sustain the fight against the HIV/AIDS scourge.
The treatment of over one million persons infected with the virus, prevention of new infections especially mother to child transmission and funding remain top on the list of challenges Nigeria faces as it marks World Aids Day.
Statistics from the National Agency for the Control of Aids, NACA show that about 10 million people in low and middle income countries are living with HIV/AIDS and of this number over 3 million are Nigerians.
Nigeria currently bears the 2nd largest burden of HIV/AIDS globally, after South Africa, yet many persons living with the virus are untested, a situation that causes continued spread of the virus.
Despite the many challenges, the control agencies say trends are improving and areas in need of sustained efforts are testing, treatment and prevention.
The target is what has been identified as the 3 zeros; zero deaths related to HIV/AIDS, zero new infections and zero discrimination.
The Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, has stated that Nigeria needs to do away with reliance on donor funding of HIV/AIDS campaign and use the country’s resources to fight the scourge.
The Minister, who made the suggestion at a meeting on the president’s emergency response plan for HIV/AIDS in Abuja, warned that a substantial part of national investment in the management of the disease comes from donor agencies, this he claims, poses a grave risk to the nation.
Mr Chukwu emphasised the need for a quick reversal of this trend to involve more states and improve access to treatment and prevention services for the 500,000 people who are most at risk.
The president’s emergency plan would not only look at the inflow of funds but how efficiently it is handled. According to the Director-General of National Agency For Control of AIDS (NACA), John Idoko, the nation currently requires an investment of about N77.6billion to tackle this threat.
He also revealed that out of about 170million Nigerians, only 3million people get tested every year and the rest do not know their HIV status.
He stated that the HIV prevalence rate among adults between 15 and 49 in Nigeria is 0.9percent.
Another major concern raised by the Minister is the abysmal number of women in the rural communities who receive HIV/AIDS intervention as rural communities remain the area most heavily affected by the epidemic, cutting food production and threatening millions of lives.
He was however optimistic that by 2012, the nation should be treating 1.2 million out of 1.5million people. The presidency has thereby promised to scale-up services and far-reaching support to communities at greater risk of the epidemic.
The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) has revealed that 70,000 infants are infected with HIV/AIDS through mother to child transmission in Nigeria annually.
The Director-General of the agency; Professor John Idoko told Channels Television that Nigeria bears the largest burden of HIV positive women who transmit to their babies.
He said out of 6 million pregnancies annually, 230,000 are HIV positive and mother to child transmission. 70,000 positive infants as the outcome annually, making this group a major source of HIV transmission followed by sex workers.
Our correspondent, Doris Okenwa, in this community report, examines HIV prevalence in the country and some of the key issues surrounding it.
We would like to inform our viewers that some of the pictures may be disturbing.
On the prevalence rate of the HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, geographical statistics from NACA, places Benue state as the highest in the country followed closely by Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Anambra and the Federal Capital Territory.
States like Kebbi, Ekiti, Jigawa and Katsina have very low prevalence rates.
An HIV patient whom Dories Okenwa spoke to is a 40-year old mother of four infected with HIV/AIDS by her partner in 1999 and unfortunately, passed it on to her youngest child who is now 13.