Nigerian government to increase funding for HIV/AIDS

Gloria Essien, Abuja

The Nigerian government says it will increase funding for HIV/AID in the country, in an effort to improve the health of the citizens.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, stated this at the fourth National Council on Aids meeting in Abuja.
He said in the last few years, donor funding for HIV has been dwindling therefore, the need for Nigeria to increase investments in the health of citizens.
“The federal government is committed to improving  the health of Nigerians and will continue to confront  and address the challenges affecting  HIV services that constitute a key barrier to accessing HIV treatment. These challenges  include  inadequate health care infrastructure and manpower, unmet need for commodities, gaps in data quality and poor funding. Our commitment  to improve coverage of HIV services for all Nigerians aligns with t he African Union’s road map on shared responsibility and global solidarity to address HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis in an integrated manner,  and the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030,” he said.
He assured Nigerians “of the Governments’ full commitment to ensuring an enabling environment for a suitable HIV/AIDS response for the country”.
The Director General of the National Agency for the control of Aids, (NACA), Dr. Sani Aliyu, urged states to collaborate with the federal government to curb the spread of HIV.
He said in the last one year, NACA had achieved various feats such as the presentations at the National Economic Council on two occasions where states were encouraged to commit point five to one percent of annual budgetary allocations to HIV/AIDS.
He added that NACA is following up on the commitment through advocacy visits to actualise the decision.
He noted that the council meeting aims to improve on efficiency of services and work towards making Nigeria HIV/AIDS free.
“Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind. It is my desire that this council meeting would afford us the opportunity to also deliberate on priority policies and program that will enhance the national HIV response. I am very pleased that over the last one year we have achieved significant progress. The federal government also demonstrated its clear commitment to the HIV in national response not only by  committing to certain of the national treatment program but also by working with the legislature to look at improving the resources we have for the HIV response, “Dr. Aliyu explained.
The Country Director of the UNAIDS, Mr. Erastus Morah, urged Nigerian government to make it’s money work by increasing the number of persons on treatment.
On his part, the President of the Network of Persons Living with HIV/AIDS, Mr. Victor Omoshehin appreciated the Nigerian governments efforts towards ending AIDS.
Omoshehin said “we feel like together we can actually achieve vision 9090 target and ending AIDS by 2030 is realistic if we are all together in love, in unity and commitments.”
The chairman of the governing Board of NACA, Mrs. Pauline Tallen, called for more efforts at ending mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.
“I want to appeal to all of you to continue to put in your best because AIDS is real,  AIDs is here with us and our position on the wall map is frightening. I believe with the commitment and the political will of this administration we will shift from being the second worst country with AIDS down to the lowest,” she appealed.
The National  Council on Aids  meeting is said to come at a crucial period in the HIV/AIDS response in Nigeria.
The theme of the fourth National Council on Aids is “Making our money go further, improving efficiency of HIV service delivery.”
Bilkisu Pai