From Kemi Yesufu, Abuja
Confronted with increasing donor fatigue and frequent calls for Nigeria to seek means of fully funding its response to HIV/AIDS, Director-General for the National Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS, (NACA), Dr. Sani Aliyu, has disclosed that government will be needing about N150 billion annually to provide Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART).
Speaking at a press conference to announce activities lined up to mark the 2018 edition of the World AIDS Day, marked yearly on December 1, Aliyu said 95 per cent of funding for the provision of ART for over one million persons living with HIV/AIDS comes from external donors.
The NACA Director-General maintained that Nigeria had to adopt a multi-sectoral approach to raise money for the funding of the national response to HIV/AID, especially with regard to treating those living with the disease.
He explained that with stakeholders accepting that the Federal Government cannot come up with N150 billion annually, without assistance, states are to allocate about one per cent of their budget, while NACA is working towards increasing private sector funding for treatment from two to 10 per cent.
He said the figures formed a major part of Nigeria’s funding sustainability road map designed by the agency and its partners to add another two million lives to the one million patients already being treated through donor assistance.
He said: “We have an issue, which is the lack of ownership. Ninety-five per cent of the over one million Nigerians with HIV are being treated by external funding. The over one million people on treatment need to continue with their treatment, they are not going to hold on.
“Therefore, as government, we know that it is our responsibility to start planning adequately to take over the one million that on treatment.
“At the moment, we have about three million Nigerians with HIV and about N50,000 per patient per year, which translates to about N150 billion. This represents about 60 per cent of the 2017 Federal Ministry of Health budget.
“Therefore, the approach to handling the HIV funding is not only to try and increase the budgetary allocation, but, overall, to try and increase the federal health budget because the federal health budget cannot devote over 60 per cent toward taking care of HIV patients.”
Also speaking at the briefing, Country Director of UNAIDS, Dr. Erasmus Morah, stressed the importance of Nigeria keeping to the pledge made by President Muhammadu Buhari at the 72nd session United Nations General Assembly held in New York to place an additional 50, 000 people on treatment each year.
Morah, who commended the Federal Government for directly treating 60, 000 persons out of the overall one million individuals on ART in the country, said Nigeria must get it right for the world to successfully push ending AIDS globally.
“Unless Nigeria takes responsibility for the treatment of its people, we will not see to the end of AIDS. HIV might not end, but we can end AIDS, which means stopping people with HIV being sick with AIDS,” Morah said.