By Sola Ogundipe
AN estimated sum of N5 billion is required every year to provide antiretroviral treatment, ART, for one million People Living With HIV/AIDS, PLHIV, in the country, even as the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, has decried the 30 percent, Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission, PMTCT coverage in the country.
Disclosing this last week in Abuja at a World AIDS Day commemoration event, Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, NACA, Dr. Sani Aliyu, said challenges that constitute key barriers to universal access to HIV/AIDS services in Nigeria must be met if the HIV/AIDS response is to be taken to the next level.
“It costs about N50,000 to provide ART to a person living with HIV for a year. With the size of our treatment programme (at over 1 million PLHIV on ART), we will require at least N50 billion annually to keep them on treatment, while we require triple that amount annually to achieve and maintain ART coverage saturation in Nigeria.”
However, according to Sani, there is huge unmet need for ART services as only nine states have surpassed 50 percent ART coverage.
“We certainly need to increase investment in the health of our citizens, optimize our response strategies and strengthen our coordination and accountability frameworks to achieve optimal returns on our investment in health.
“I appeal to State Governors to align with the Federal Government’s commitment to increased funding for HIV/AIDS, by committing at least 0.5 to 1 percent of their monthly Federal allocation to address the unmet needs for HIV/AIDS in their respective states. This will go a long way in addressing the commodity unmet needs and health systems strengthening in their states.”
“Going by the theme of this year’s World AIDS Day, “Right to Health; Make it Happen”, it is time to put HIV/AIDS at the forefront of universal health coverage in Nigeria, which is the vision of the National Health Policy of 2016.
Minister decries 30% PMTCT coverage
In a related event, the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole expressed concern that despite several years of interventions, access to paediatric ART services continues to hover around the 28 percent mark for six years running.
Adewole who spoke in Abuja in commemoration of the WAD 2017, observed: “It is equally worrisome that PMTCT services are available only to 30 percent of the pregnant population annually. These poor indicators are unacceptable and require a re-think around our coordination strategies for the containment of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.”
He said government is working hard to reverse the trend of donor-driven approach to national HIV programmes so that more PLHIV can be on free ARV drug treatment.
“So far, government is providing ART for over 60,000 PLHIV in Abia and Taraba States while N1 billion was appropriated in the 2017 budget for procurement of ARV drugs for additional 20,000 PLHIV.
“We have also adopted the same approach in 2018, where we have budgeted N1.4 billion for treatment and management of PLHIV. “This effort is in a bid to take ownership of our national HIV/AIDS programme,”he remarked.