BY SOLA OGUNDIPE
President Goodluck Jonathan, Monday, launched a new, special purpose programme targeted at achieving universal access to the prevention, treatment, care and support for Nigerians living with HIV/AIDS.
Tagged the “President’s Comprehensive Response Plan”, PCRP, the programme was developed to promote greater responsibility and accountability for HIV/AIDS responses at national and sub-national levels.
Data from the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, NACA, shows that 3.4 million Nigerians are living with HIV/AIDS.
Launching the new programme during the Abuja +12 Special Summit on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and other related infectious diseases, the President said the initiative was a demonstration of Nigeria’s commitment to the Abuja Declaration 2001.
“The government of Nigeria realizes that HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria and other infectious diseases pose a significant threat to human and economic development. We have developed this plan to accelerate implementation of key interventions with respect to HIV/AIDS.
President Jonathan said: “This programme will help us bridge existing service gaps, address key financial, system and coordination challenges in current HIV/AIDS response systems.
“I have also directed the immediate development of a new and creative framework for sustainable financing of health to meet the targeted objectives”.
Addressing delegates, the President observed that Africa made significant progress towards reduction of the incidence of the diseases during the intervening years since the national benchmarks of Abuja Declaration of 2001 and the UNGASS Declaration of Commitment in 2006.
He said: “As commendable and encouraging as these achievements are, our continent is still far from attaining all the targets to sufficiently secure the well-being of their country and their future.
“To consolidate our progress in addressing the heavy burden with increased urgency, develop a stronger, home grown, sustainable health financing framework, we must take ownership of the process, and drive its implementation”.
Executive Director of the UNFPA, Professor Babatunde Oshotimehin, who delivered a speech on behalf of the UN Secretary General Bank Kimon, observed that strong leadership had been the key to the Africa’s successes in the HIV/AIDS campaign over the years.
“It began with the political commitments outlined in the original Abuja agreements that generated a low of funds from within Africa and the international community; scientific advances have also played a major role, along with the commitments of health workers continent-wide.
“Before the 2001 Abuja Declaration, HIV treatment in Africa was almost non-existent. Just 11 years later, 7.5 million people were receiving antiretroviral therapy. Yet HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria and other infectious diseases still pose a significant threat to well-being and development in sub-Saharan Africa.
“Less than 1,000 days remain until the MDG deadline. The Goals are in sight, but much still needs to be done. Let us heed the warnings of history. Failure to maintain momentum can halt and even reverse progress.
“My call at Abuja+12 is for renewed leadership and increased domestic and international funding – new investment in improved tests and drugs, stronger services to deliver them,” the Secretary General stated.