HIV/AIDS Trust Fund, to be ready soon
By Angela Atabo
The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) says the Nigerian HIV/AIDS Trust Fund will be functional by March 2019.
The Director-General of NACA, Dr Sani Aliyu, announced this at the 2018 Civil Society Organisations Accountability Forum.
The forum was themed: “Domestic Resource Mobilisation: Increasing Public and Private Sector Investment”, on Tuesday in Abuja.
Aliyu said that the virus could be controlled but the challenge was funding, thus the need for the establishment of the fund.
“The HIV Trust Fund of Nigeria has been adopted by private sector, it is an initiative that would be private sector driven and it would be launched in March 2019.
“Its main function would be to bring funding into HIV treatment, with this trust fund, emphasis would be shifted from just treatment to prevention.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has also directed that the full amount for the HIV/AIDS treatment should be released to fast track results,” he said.
Aliyu said that there was an ongoing Nigeria HIV and AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) to establish the status of people living with the scourge.
He said that the survey would help the government know the number of persons affected with the diseases in the country and to provide adequate treatment and care for the patients.
He said that the outcome of the survey would define Nigeria’s new HIV and AIDS status in terms of prevalence and in terms of incidence.
He added that the data emerging from the survey would change the outlook of HIV in Nigeria and shift the narrative from treatment to prevention.
He commended the CSOs for the initiative, adding that the conference was the first of its kind.
Declaring the conference open, Mrs Pauline Tallen, NACA Board Chairperson, commended the contribution of CSOs in the fight against HIV in Nigeria.
Tallen reiterated government commitment to supporting CSOs in Nigeria, adding: “I assure you that government is fully appreciative of what you are doing.’’
She noted that with the support from CSOs, NACA was reaching the unreached.
She said that NACA’s desire was to put in more effort to ensure that HIV mothers give birth to safe children, adding that so far the statistic is encouraging.
Tallen said that last week NACA visited the clinic in Asokoro and the report was that all mothers living with HIV were having safe children virtually 98 per cent of them.
She said it was an encouraging result and NACA would keep on doing its best to protecting mothers and children against HIV.
Dr Walter Ogwuocha, the Executive Secretary, Civil Society for HIV/AIDS in Nigeria ( CiSHAN), said that the CSOs had come a long way in advocacy to ensure that the government do the right thing.
Ogwuocha said that CSOs believed that HIV/AIDS national response was the responsibility of the country government as obtainable everywhere else in the world.
He regretted that over the years the Nigerian government had been snagging in ensuring that they commit commensurate resources to fight the virus.
He said that was the narrative CSOs wanted to change through this accountability forum.
“We want to hold government responsible and accountable to their promises, we also want to hold them responsible to the lives of those living with HIV and AIDS.
“We also want to hold them accountable to ensuring that we do enough testing in Nigeria to make sure that everyone joins hands together to ending AIDS in Nigeria in 2030.’’
Ogwuocha said that to achieve this, CSOs would do a holistic engagement with the government at the national level asking them to step up and increase the number of those on treatment on government purse.
He said that a milestone was achieved when the government agreed that every year there would be 50,000 persons that would be put newly on the government treatment programme.
He however said that CSOs would work to see that the 50,000 was not just promise but actual numbers by next year.
He also urged the private sector to as well contribute their resources by buying the HIV and AIDS commodities and distribute to facilities so people living with the virus could access.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that over 10 countries were in Nigeria to attend the pan-African event.
The event is aimed at changing the HIV and AIDS prevalence status through improved funding.