By Martins Ifijeh
The Director General, National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), Prof. Babatunde Salako, has called on the federal government to increase funding for HIV AIDS intervention since the success recorded from the National HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) may cause donors to turn their priority to other areas.
Speaking during a media visit to his office recently, he said the federal government has to put in the front burner the process of ensuring that it takes over the funding of HIV interventions completely from donors.
He said: “HIV is one disease that we must tackle and it has to be in a holistic way, because if we want to produce Nigerians with good health and well-being, as well as good workforce that can translate into economic prosperity, we should not rest in addressing the health burden.
“We cannot afford to leave it for development partners alone. The important focal areas have to be in the area of service, that is, detection, prevention, treatment, research in that order.
“So I would expect that they put money on case finding, and on prevention which I believe has helped a lot in terms of awareness campaigns about how the disease is contracted, what preventive measures are available that people can make use of, and what to do when people are engaged in risky behaviours, among others,” he said.
On HIV treatment, he said although the country has been able to put a lot more people on treatment much more than before, it is best to have even larger majority of people with very low undetectable viral load as this will ensure infectivity will be low.
“We have the issue of resistance but that is not in isolation. Resistance happens to many infectious diseases either because of fake drugs or because of patient behaviour in terms of low compliance or things like that.
” It will be a dangerous signal if we allow young people who still have mileage in terms of their age to get tired of taking their drugs. What that would mean is that it is very likely that mortality and morbidity will increase and the rate of infection will become higher and then we go back to square one.
” I think these days, we must begin to look at the role of social scientists and anthropologists who have the art of being able to make changes in the community, being able to talk to the community and also having the capability of convincing them on the positive ways and thinking that communities should be able to prevent people from stopping their ARV agents.
” We need more of these people in the community motivating patients with HIV generally and talking to them about the danger that exists ahead if they stop taking the drugs,” he added.