By William Anuku
As Nigeria joins the world to commemorate the 2015 World Aids Day,strong indications have emerged that major donor country like the United States of America(USA) may withdraw funds for helping to tackle the HIV/AIDS epidemic by year 2016.
The development may also render about 1.4million HIV positive people who are estimated to be in dire need of Antiretroviral (ARV) drugs helpless.
The National Agency for the Control of Aids(NACA) under whose purview funds for the control and treatment of people living with the virus in Nigeria, resides was however not specific on the actual date for the stoppage of these funds.
Director General of NACA,John Idoko who gave this indication in Abuja on Tuesday,as part of preliminary activities commemorating the day,said global economic meltdown and need for individual countries to shoulder their responsibilities may account for the possible withdrawal of the donor funds.
He said rather than being threatened, the action should spur the Federal Government to take up full funding of the treatment, as smaller,less endowed countries were already footing over 50percent of their treatment bills.
He also noted that the looming financial constraints in tackling the epidemic, called for concerted efforts by Federal,States and Local Governments to device new funding approaches,particularly reviewing their tax policies or the National Health Insurance Scheme(NHIS).
“The economic climate in those countries is also becoming bad,secondly we are the largest economy in Africa according to re-basing statistics,there are many other African countries that I can count, like South Africa, Boswana even Benin Republic here which are responsible for 50percent or more of their support,so why should Nigeria be different,this is the way the donor countries are looking at the issue,”Idoko said.
Meanwhile,new infections level has dropped to 35percent,with an estimated 3.4million people presently living with HIV in Nigeria,according to the UNAIDS Country Director for Nigeria,Dr Bilali Camara.
He said,”At the end of 2015, I can say with clarity that Nigeria is among the countries which have halted the spread and reversed the trend of the HIV epidemic. There is no doubt that,with the fast tracking approach being promoted,Nigeria will end AIDS by 2030”.
Abdulkadir Ibrahim,National Secretary,Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria(NEPWHAN) disclosed that an estimated 2.5million children have been orphaned by HIV, with Nigeria accounting for 21percent of new infections in children globally.
He said despite modest gains in containing the epidemic,the country still accounts for 32percent of global gaps in prevention of Mother-to Child Transmission(PMTCT) and Mother-to-Child Transmission (MTCT) now accounting for 10percent of new infections.
He tasked President Muhammadu Buhari to respect the Abuja Declaration made in 2001 which suggests that Nigeria should shore up her health budget to at least 15percent.
“NEWWHAN uses this medium to appeal to government at all level to increase funding and budgetary provision for HIV/AIDS,TB and Malaria which are some of the major factors responsible for the country’s high maternal and child death.
“Nigeria should respect her commitment to Abuja declaration 2001,which stated that Health budget will be up to 15percent of her national budget. The lives,hope of survival and treatment access should not be determined by foreign aid which is already reducing,government need to own up the interventions,put money on treatment,prevention and care,”Ibrahim noted