By Sola Ogundipe
The Federal government has committed to provide antiretroviral drugs to additional 50,000 Nigerians living with HIV each year.
Nigeria’s commitment was announced in a speech by President Muhammadu Buhari at the high-level side event convened by Ugandan President of Uganda, 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.
In a statement read on his behalf by the Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), NACA, Dr Sani Aliyu, President Buhari remarked: “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, the Government of Nigeria is committed to maintain the current 60,000 plus clients on life saving medicines and an additional 50,000 new clients per year.”
Nigeria already has more than one million people living with HIV on treatment.
The President said the country is 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.
President Buhari 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 that tests HIV positive on treatment.
Aliyu spoke before the King of Swaziland, the Presidents of Malawi, Seychelles, Uganda and Zambia, the Vice President of Botswana, representatives of the United States and China, the UNAIDS Executive Director, as well as representatives of people living with HIV.
“We are encouraged by the enthusiasm that the Federal Government is showing towards putting more of its own financial resources to the HIV response. This is one sure way of helping Nigeria to end AIDS by 2030.” UNAIDS Country Director for Nigeria, Dr Erasmus Morah commended the firm commitments Nigeria is bringing to its HIV response.