NACA secures grant of 660 million US dollars for HIV AIDS response

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…Says Nigeria is on the right path to ending transmission

By Chika Onyesi
Dr. Sani Aliyu, DG NACA
The Director-General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS, Dr. Sani Aliyu says Nigeria is close to its dream of ending HIV transmission following giant strides made in the disease control response for 2018.
Speaking at a media event, the NACA boss said his submission is the result of various targets met and successes recorded in the fight against HIV/AIDS for the year.
The AIDS epidemic fight in Nigeria may be gaining new grounds and recording successes, but the figures are still disturbing.
Over 3 million persons are estimated to be living with the virus in Nigeria, with only about one million of them on treatment and an adult HIV prevalence of around 4.4%.
The World Health Organisation estimates that Nigeria bears the second highest burden of adolescent HIV/AIDS with about 240,000 living with the disease.
According to NACA about 220,000 children under the age of 15 are positive while about 1.3 million children have been orphaned by the disease.
The agency however says it is working to review and update the figures. 

In June 2018 it embarked on a nationwide survey to determine the accurate number of persons living with the disease.

About 217, 000 persons enrolled in the survey, exceeding the projected target of 107, 000 thousand persons
The survey according to Dr. Aliyu is 90 per cent complete and is expected to provide the agency data to guide its operations in the coming year.
‘‘We expect the result to be released in March and there’s no doubt the survey will change the way we respond to HIV AIDS, we will then be able to utilize the available resources’’
Even with these efforts, the challenge of funding HIV AIDS response continues to generate discourse.
The federal government had recently made commitments to ensure patients in Taraba and Abia States are fully budgeted for but the rest of the country remains in need.
There had been donor fatigue and worry that available resources would not cover the number of persons needing treatment.
According to research, about 95 per cent of persons living with HIV are catered for by the US Government and the Global Fund, while the Nigerian government provides only five per cent.
But the NACA DG says 2018 has been a good year as far as funding the HIV response is concerned.
‘‘The budget figures from the federal government and the states have doubled from 700 million naira commitment to about 1.4 billion naira commitment, the releases have also increased substantially’’
The agency also secured a grant of 660 million US dollars from its major funders, the global fund, for Tuberculosis, Malaria and HIVAIDs response, ‘‘a feat Dr. Aliyu says could not have been possible two years ago’’.
  
With the help of global fund, the agency has secured a permanent office for its headquarters and six zonal offices across the country for its activities.

To further boost its response, NACA intends to involve the private sector with the launch an HIV AIDS trust fund in March 2019.

  
Despite these achievements, Dr. Aliyu says there are still alarming indices from the HIV scourge
  
‘‘We still have babies born with HIV, we still have 210,000 new infections every year and 150,000 deaths from HIV every year, there is still a lot of work to be done’’ 
According to a representative of the UNAIDS Country Director, Dr. Modupe Oduwale, this is where the ambitious 90-90-90 treatment target by the UNAIDS comes in handy.
‘‘Nigeria like many other countries made a commitment to ensure that 90% of people living with HIV are identified, that 90% of those identified are put on treatment and also strive to achieve a 90% viral load suppression in some of the patients’’
She says if Nigeria adheres to this goal, it would go a long way in breaking transmission among citizens and prevent new infections thereby giving way for treatment.
Going by recent data, the goal of ending HIV AIDS globally by 2020 may be far-fetched but health experts say it could be achieved in the nearest future if mother to child transmission is totally eliminated.

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