From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), on Thursday, announced that the newly established HIV Trust Fund of Nigeria (HTFN) will soon take off with N62.1 billion and will be driven by the Nigeria Business Coalition Against AIDS (NiBUCAA).
NACA in a statement explained that Dr. Jekwu Ozoemene, a seasoned banker, administrator, and finance expert, will serve as Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the HTFN, while the Group Managing Director of Access Bank, Dr. Herbert Wigwe, will serve as Chairman.
Meanwhile, Mr. Mike Sangster, the Managing Director of TotalEnergies Exploration and Production Nigeria; Alhaji Aliko Dangote GCON, Chairman, Board of Trustees of Dangote Foundation and President of the Dangote Group; Engineer Osagie Okunbor, Managing Director The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria- SPDC, and the Country Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria; Dr. Lars Richter, Managing Director/CEO Julius Berger Nigeria Plc; Dr. Gambo Aliyu, Director General NACA; and Dr. Sani Aliyu, immediate past Director-General of NACA, would serve as Board of Trustee members.
NACA further explained that the HTFN was developed as a sustainable financing mechanism for the mobilization and deployment of domestic private sector resources to address the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV in Nigeria.
“Among other objectives, the HIV Trust Fund will improve efforts to ensure coverage of high-impact HIV interventions that would provide the requisite treatment for HIV positive mothers, while contributing to closing the funding gap for HIV in Nigeria that currently stands at about 108 million dollars per annum,” NACA stated.
Dr. Ozoemena, in his submission stressed that HTFN will play key role in helping Nigeria achieve the UNAIDS 95-95-95 strategy of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030; achieving 95 per cent diagnosed among all people living with HIV (PLHIV), 95 per cent on antiretroviral therapy (ART) among diagnosed, and 95 per cent virally suppressed (VS) among treated.
“This will be done by deploying private sector competencies and capital market tools,” he said.
He was also optimistic that HTFN investment will improve maternal health and reduce child mortality especially in the rural and peri-urban communities in Nigeria through programmes focused on awareness creation on PMTCT, HIV prevention education for women who are in their reproductive age, and the provision of testing services and antiretrovirals for HIV positive pregnant and infected babies.