Charges states to implement Social Health Insurance Schemes with integration of HIV prevention, treatment services
*Calls on private sector to support NACA for sustained fight against HIV/AIDS
By Joseph Erunke
THE federal government, Tuesday, said it was optimistic that very soon, COVID-19 would be a thing of the past in the country, saying two vaccines under trial have more than 90 percent efficacy to end the disease.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, who said this at an event held in Abuja to commemorate the 2020 World AIDS Day, charged states to fully implement Social Health Insurance Schemes with the integration of HIV prevention and treatment services.
“It is my recommendation that all states fully implement Social Health Insurance Schemes with the integration of HIV prevention and treatment services”, he said, appealing to the private sector to support the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, NACA, and the Nigerian Business Coalition against AIDS for sustained access to life-saving medicines, vaccines, and diagnostics.
He said, “As Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 we have consciously taken steps to ensure that as a country our citizens do the needful to avoid being infected or infecting others with COVID-19 and with two vaccines under trial potentially having more than 90% efficacy, I believe that ultimately there will be ” light at the end of the tunnel.”
Noting that the commemoration of the 2020 World AIDS Day with the theme “Global Solidarity, Shared Responsibility”, was remarkable, he said, “Drawing from this, it is also very apt that Nigeria has chosen as Theme: “United to end AIDS in the midst of COVID-19: Get tested”.
“I must commend NACA and our partners for coming up with this theme which not only captures the focus of the fight against AIDS but has brought to fore the key global public health challenge we have faced as a nation and globally since the beginning of this year, the COVID-19 Pandemic,” he said.
He said,”Nigeria as a country aligns fully with the global solidarity and shared responsibility which requires us to view global health responses, including the AIDS response, in a new way.”
” The funding of additional 50,000 persons on treatment annually by President Muhammadu Buhari is a clear testimony of our commitment to global solidarity and shared responsibility to leave no one behind and no one dies as a result of HIV.
” The approved federal budget for 2020 has adequate provision for HIV to cover this Presidential commitment,” the SGF said.
According to him, “The appropriation and release of a minimum of 1% of consolidated revenue from the federation account to the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund have provided a strong financial base for sustained funding of primary health care and set the tone for the implementation of State Social Health Insurance Schemes nationwide.”
Expressing happiness that one of the documents unveiled at the event” is a National blueprint for Integrating HIV into State Social Health Insurance Schemes”, the SGF said the federal government was “grateful to all our Partners, The United States Government, United Nations Joint Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) and indeed the UN system, The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria for their collaborative roles in supporting HIV Prevention and Treatment services in Nigeria. ”
“The private sector demonstrated capacity to support health emergencies with the very laudable role played by the Coalition against COVID-19, CACOVID.
“In line with this, 1, therefore, call on the private sector to work more with NACA and the Nigerian Business Coalition against AIDS for a sustained access to life-saving medicines, vaccines, and diagnostics,” he said.
He tasked drug manufacturers in Nigeria that “in line with the President’s Executive Order on local content it has become expedient for all efforts to be galvanised towards the production of Anti-Retroviral Drugs and HIV test kits within the country.”
Be assured of Government’s commitment to ensure human rights are respected, rights of women and girls, as well as gender equality, are at the centre of providing health services as we work towards zero new HIV infections by 2030 and attaining the 95:95:95 global HIV/AIDS Targets,” he added.
On his part, the Director-General of NACA, Dr. Gambo Aliyu, in his welcome address, informed the nation that “self-testing for HIV is now a reality in Nigeria. ”
“With my demonstration of self-testing at Abaji in Bwari Area Council on Thursday, I encourage all Nigerians to take up the responsibility of knowing their HIV status by going for a test,” he said.
Noting that the country was making great strides in response to the HIV pandemic with the collaborative efforts of our partners, the NACA boss thanked the United States Government, United Nations Joint Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS), the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria among others for the development.
He explained that: “HIV prevalence in the last 18 years has reduced from a peak of 5.8% in 2001 to 1.3% in 2018. This he said, implied that “13 out of 1,000 persons selected randomly in Nigeria are now likely to be positive.”
He spoke further:” Last year,44,830 Nigerians were estimated to have died from HIV/AIDS. We have spent $6.2Billion to identify and treat 70 percent of the estimated 1,080,000 Persons Living with HIV (PLHIV) and $1.2Billion of this was from domestic sources.
The fight against HIV has not been spared by the recent COVID-19 pandemic which has affected the provision of HIV services across the country with a six-month interruption in services. However, I am happy to note that HIV infrastructure was deployed to support COVID-19 with 25-30% of COVID-19 tests conducted in 6 HIV Mega Labs, HIV sample transfer mechanism replicated for COVID-19 response in four states and over 15,000 HIV community volunteers from HIV stakeholders supported contact tracing, social mobilization and the fight against stigma and discrimination.
“The 2020 World AIDS Day annual lecture will address a key area of the National HIV Response yet untapped. The topic “Galvanizing the Private Sector towards Fostering Country Ownership of HIV Testing and Treatment Services: Lessons from COVID-19 Experience” is apt.
” I am confident that the presentations by our notable speakers will set the tone for renewed efforts towards domestic resourcing of the HIV response and provide insights on the capacity of our drug manufacturers to produce ARV drugs and Test kits in-country.”