The Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, NACA, Sani Aliyu, said Nigeria must take full sponsorship of its HIV/AIDS programme or risk losing one million of its citizens currently living with the disease before 2022.
The D-G stated this in an interview with State House correspondents in Abuja on Sunday.
According to him, taking ownership of the programme by Nigeria has become imperative considering the dwindling resources coming from foreign donors for the programme.
He said almost one million Nigerians are on HIV treatment with only about 60,000 of them being catered for by the federal government through “the “Taraba and Abia project’’.
No fewer than 700,000 HIV positive Nigerians were catered for by the U. S. government while remaining 240,000 people were being treated through funds donated by other global organizations.
“If our major donors decide to stop funding HIV/AIDs programme, almost a million Nigerians will come off the treatments,” he said.
“I can tell you as a physician that if those one million people are out of treatment statistically most of them will be dead in the next five years.
“This is a national security issue. HIV treatment is now affordable and we as a country need to start taking ownership of the programme.
“As I mentioned to the National Economic Council, there is no programme on earth that is open-ended. No donor agency will come to you and say ‘I’m going to look after you forever’, It will never happen.
“So, eventually sooner or later those funds will dwindle and they will go away. At the moment, we have an opportunity; we have an opportunity because in the last few weeks we have just crossed the tipping point for the epidemic.
“The tipping point for the epidemic is when we have more people going on treatment than we have new infections, which means that the epidemic is on real downward trend and therefore we need to maintain that momentum.’’
He, however, expressed optimism that the country would be able to achieve the 90-90-90 per cent objective (90 per cent will have HIV; 90 per cent are on treatment and 90 per cent are biologically suppressed) by 2030 if the momentum is maintained in the next few years.
State governments have already agreed to commit between 0.5 per cent to one per cent of their monthly allocation towards HIV/AIDS programmes.
“We are not asking for that money to come to the federal government. No, they keep their money but they commit to investing that money in HIV care in their states so that their health system can be strengthened; so that in the future they will be able to deliver their own HIV programme,” he said.
The federal government in 2010 signed an agreement with the U.S. government, stipulating that both the federal and the state governments will set aside one per cent of their allocation towards HIV programme in the country.
The states are just beginning to respond.