Prof. Wole Soyinka has charged the federal government to take seriously its obligation to eliminate HIV and AIDs in Nigeria by taking full ownership of funding and treatment rather than relying on foreign donor support.
Soyinka gave the charge in a “Keep the Promise to AIDS” Video Campaign unveiled by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) in Abuja yesterday.
The Noble Laurel said the government was not unaware of the level of affliction the spread of the virus has caused as well as the human devastation in the country.
“The government has made promises; they have the power to step down the epidemic. You witness campaigns by voluntary bodies urging safe and responsible lifestyle among the most vulnerable youths. These campaigns need official backing and resources let there be a commitment and moral duty to implement plans that would wipe out AIDS within this generation. You have global obligations, fulfill them and keep your promises,’’ Soyinka appealed.
The Country Programme Director, AHF, Dr Echey Ijezie, underscored the need to fill the funding gap in the HIV and AIDS response in the country.
Ijezie also urged the federal and state governments as well as stakeholders to keep the promise on funding in order to ensure that the promise made to every person placed on treatment was fulfilled.
“AHF will continue to advocate by speaking about the ills, challenges and gaps in treatment, standing against discrimination and ensuring that love is shown to persons living with the virus,’’ he said.
Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr Sani Aliyu, in his address, stated that devoting funds for the treatment of persons living with HIV/AIDS by the Federal Government is not a charity but a right, as HIV patients are entitled to live happily and make needed contributions to national growth and development.
Also speaking, Publisher, Premium Times, Mr Dapo Olorunyomi, tasked journalists to hold people in government accountable in order to help provide keen accountability for health budgetary provisions at national and state levels.
“As a journalist who tries to monitor the progress of policies in the country, I am aware that spawning and connecting top level political commitment to engage important social policies like HIV/AIDS require a critical and ethical journalism to be successful.”
Dapo urged media practitioners to design own national healthcare reporting objectives that will give priority to HIV caregiving community realize the current national objectives of increasing public sector funding for HIV services in the country, and knowing full well that at a unit cost of about N47,000 it takes just N20billion to put 50percent of PLHIV on annual treatment, which will just be to close the current 63percent in treatment gap the country is facing today.