‘What Nigeria should do to end AIDS by 2030’
The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) has identified what the country must do to end Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) by 2030.
Director General of NACA, Prof. John Idoko, at a press conference in Abuja, on Tuesday, ahead of the World AIDS Day on December 1, 2015, identified among other things: Increase domestic funding to achieve a fully funded AIDS response at all levels; fully operationalize 90-90-90 strategy to eliminate progression to AIDS, premature deaths and HIV transmission; ensure combination prevention for all populations; expand HIV Counseling and Testing (HCT), Antiretroviral treatment (ART) and Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) services; pursue a policy of local manufacture of essential commodities (antiretroviral drugs, test kits and condoms); and address barriers to access to HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment services.
According to current estimates by NACA, there are three million people living with HIV in Nigeria with approximately 750,000 persons presently on treatment. It noted that 55 per cent of HIV positives are women, that is approximately 1,237,500 females.
Idoko, however, identified major challenges facing the HIV response as: Inadequate domestic funding in the face of declining support from donors; inadequate capacity (human and infrastructure) to effectively provide prevention, treatment and care programmes; poor health seeking habit among the rural population, particularly Ante Natal Care (ANC) attendance and delivery of pregnant women in health facilities; pockets of insecurity in some parts of the country which disrupts service delivery, commodity supply and overall coordination of interventions and programmes; and poor health workers attitude to Persons Living With HIV (PLWHIV), stigma and discrimination to HIV and Tuberculosis.
The NACA boss said ending AIDS in Nigeria is possible by achieving universal access already by 2020 (front loading) which means: 80 per cent coverage for all key interventions; 81 per cent coverage for ART; 95 per cent PMTCT coverage; 90 per cent pediatric ART coverage; and sustaining these coverage rates until 2030.
Meanwhile, the World AIDS Day 2015 in Nigeria will be commemorated under the theme “Getting to zero: Ending AIDS by 2030” to create awareness about HIV/AIDS, reduce stigma and discrimination against people living with or affected by HIV, and advocate for more private sector partnerships and support to the country’s response.
One of the highlights of this year’s national commemoration is the maiden edition of the NACA Annual Policy Lecture which will take place in Abuja to highlight the successes of the AIDS response in Nigeria as well as the significance of scaling-up domestic funding in order to end AIDS by 2030.
Other events lined up for this year’s commemoration include a Cultural Night gala to recognise organisations that have made outstanding contributions to the AIDS response in Nigeria, HIV Counselling and Testing for Internally Displaced Persons living in Abuja, an HIV awareness walk, awareness briefings for secondary school students, a football event, a road show, as well as provision of maternal, new-born and child health services.
Idoko said NACA continues to strive in ensuring ownership and sustainability of the Nigeria HIV/AIDS response.
The HIV response in Nigeria is largely donor driven but the government of Nigeria through series of meetings with stakeholders has selected two states; Abia and Taraba States to be taken over solely by the Government of Nigeria and provide funds for the Prevention and Treatment of HIV.
To ensure state ownership and sustainability of HIV interventions in Nigeria, NACA and Centre of Health Economics and Development (CHECOD) held a technical meeting on July 23 and 24, 2015. The workshop was facilitated by NACA and funded by the World Bank Group. The Chief Executive Officer of CHECOD, Dr. Kenneth Ojo, was the key moderator.
Idoko stated that the main purpose of the meeting was to discuss the continued sustenance of the HIV/AIDS programme in the country beyond various donor contributions.
The Director General informed the gathering that most of the support of HIV/AIDS programmes in the country comes from organizations outside the country. According to Idoko, 80 per cent PLWHIV accessing treatment are funded by foreign donors such as United States President Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) programme which caters for 70 per cent of PLWHIV accessing ARTs.
Other organizations which have made significant contribution to the HIV National response are the Global Funds for AIDS, TB and Malaria and the World Bank.
The meeting, therefore, provided an opportunity to plan how to sustain all HIV/AIDS programmes in the country by looking inwards and coming up with possible ways for internal resourcing HIV/AIDS in the country.