As Nigeria joined the rest of the world to commemorate the World AIDS Day, the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), has revealed that facilitating the local manufacturing of HIV medicines and other relevant commodities as part of the long-term sustainability agenda for the national response was among its key priorities.
Director General of NACA, Dr. Sani Aliyu, who stated this yesterday at the World AIDS Day commemoration event, themed: “know your status” in Abuja, said the agency has commenced plans with relevant authorities to develop a comprehensive framework that will leverage on existing government’s policies to catalyse production of medicines and commodities in country.
He emphasized that the local production of high quality and affordable medicines represents the most effective means of ensuring sustainable access to essential medicines.
Aliyu stated that improving engagement with the private sector forms part of NACA larger efforts to enhance local ownership and sustainability of the response.
The DG informed that the agency have been working on strengthening its engagement with the Private Sector in Nigeria through the Nigeria Business Coalition Against AIDS (NIBUCAA) in a bid to increase domestic funding for HIV towards a more sustainable response.
According to him, The HIV Trust Fund, which will soon be launched, will provide the platform for more concrete contributions from the private sector. “It is our hope that resources that come through this window will help to close the gap in access to antiretroviral therapy for people living with HIV,” said Aliyu.
He therefore thanked the Vice President for his leadership and support towards obtaining a commitment from state governors to resource the HIV responses in their respective states with up to 1.0 per cent of their states’ monthly federal allocation.
Reaffirming his commitment to improving outcomes related to mother to child transmission of HIV, Aliyu informed that in the past year, NACA has made significant effort in that aspect through several interventions working in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and our partners.
He however regretted that “despite having the tools needed to eliminate mother to child transmission, there are lingering challenges and we still have miles to go.”
The DG identified persistently poor utilization of formal health services by pregnant women in many parts of the country as areas of concern, while calling for champions from all social sectors to join hands with NACA in addressing the cultural and social barriers that impact on acceptance and uptake of antenatal care services.
Speaking on the ongoing National AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS), the DG said “this survey will provide reliable data on HIV incidence, viral suppression among people living with HIV who are on treatment, and the prevalence of hepatitis B and C.
“The results of this survey will improve our understanding of the Nigerian HIV epidemic and provide more accurate and reliable data for planning and decision making. By the end of this week, we will be on the last leg of the survey with only 8 states left to go. I dare say, the results would mark the beginning of a new phase in our HIV response.”
In its goodwill message, the Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN), called on government to approve a budget line for them through NACA.
This, the association said will enable them address and manage the challenges of coping with HIV diseases.
NEPWHAN Sectretary, Abdulkadir Ibrahim, said “majority of our members are very poor, living in abject poverty and often find it difficult to even transport themselves to facilities to access the lifesaving ARVs, especially the pregnant women attending prevention of mother to child transmission (TMTCT).”