By Sola Ogundipe
The Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, NIMR, Prof Babatunde Salako, has said that Nigeria would only sustain the gains it has achieved against HIV/AIDS if the Federal government takes full responsibility for funding HIV/AIDS programmes in the country.
Salako, who was responding to the findings of the 2018 Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey, NAIIS, presented recently by President Mohammadu Buhari, told Vanguard that government needed to take over the funding of HIV completely from donors.
“I’m congratulating the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, NACA, for the successful completion of the nationwide survey on HIV and beyond the fact that it was a successful project, the results were also very encouraging,” Salako stated.
According to the NIMR Director General, the survey showed that all efforts of the government partners, NACA and Nigeria have come to fruition.
“We now have national prevalence of 1.4 percent which is 50 percent less than what it used to be and that cuts across for most regions of the country. My fear is that we have got to where we are today because we have a lot of helpers and if they decide to carry their bag and baggage and leave Nigeria, we are unlikely to be able to maintain that system.
“The major fear that I have is that if the donors leave today we will not be able to sustain this achievement. The government has to begin to put in the front burner the process of ensuring that they take over the funding of HIV completely from donors.
“Let the donors put their energy elsewhere because this is one disease that is ravaging our country and one of the top 10 diseases that is killing Nigerians,” Salako stated.
Calling for more in-country spending on health, he said: “There is some spending, but it is really not enough or close to what the World Health Organisation, WHO, and United Nations, UN, have recommended in terms of the percentage of the total population and what the health budget should be.
“We need to begin to look inward to start bringing on board the process of sustainability, more like a take over from the funders and taking full responsibility to run all these programmes.”
Salako also said: “If we want to produce Nigerians with good health and well-being, as well as good workforce for government that can translate into economic prosperity, HIV is one disease that the country must tackle and it has to be in a holistic way, we cannot afford to leave it for development partners alone.”
The NAIIS was a cross-sectional survey that assessed the prevalence of key HIV-related health indicators, was one of the largest population-based HIV/AIDS household surveys in the world.
It was conducted by the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, NACA with support from the US government and Global Fund which contributed $70 million, as well as other partners
The NAIIS revealed Nigeria had fewer people living with HIV than previously estimated with a new national HIV prevalence estimated at 1.4 percent. It also revealed that a total of 1.9 million people are living with HIV in Nigeria.