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HIV Patients Protest Poor Funding
The first National Conference on HIV Prevention in Nigeria, which held on Tuesday in Abuja witnessed a mild drama as some protesters under the aegis of Society for Women and Children Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, SOWCHAN, invaded the venue of the conference in protest.
The protesters complained of the poor attitude of the federal government towards the funding of the HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.
They also want President Muhammadu Buhari to create the office of special adviser on HIV/AIDs which would be headed by someone living with the HIV virus, so that the president will be getting first hand briefing on the challenges being faced by HIV patients.
The conference, which was organized by the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, NACA, was aimed at proffering more solutions to effectively preventing the further spread of the disease.
Members of SOWCHAN, trooped out in their numbers to the podium where the Minister of State for Health, Osagie Ehanire, was about to deliver a keynote address.
Their spokesperson, Enya Attah, who has lived with the HIV/AIDS for 20 years and has three of her children negative to the disease, said the protest was to get the government to live up to its responsibility of catering for the health needs of the citizenry.
“There should be political will by both the federal and state governments to truthfully implement the many strategic plans and research recommendation developed by NACA,” she said.
“Nigeria is heavily dependent on external donors to about 75%, while domestic financing is 25 percent.
“There is dwindling global funding for HIV in developing countries; the Nigerian government must bridge this funding gap.”
NACA director-general, Sani Aliyu, pointed out that transmission of the HIV virus has largely reduced by at least 96% due to the use of the antiretroviral therapy.
“Following the 2011 landmark HTPN-O52 study, we now have very good evidence that ART is very effective in cutting HIV transmission by up to 96%,” he said.
“In addition to this, pregnant women who could take antiretroviral treatment and adhere to treatment up till post-partum period are able to reduce the risk of transmission from as high as 30 per cent to less than one per cent.
“This conference is an opportunity for us to review our approach to HIV prevention and learn from all the good work that has been going on from within and outside the country,” Aliyu added.
Also speaking at the conference, chairman of the House of Representatives’ Committee on AIDS, TB and Malaria, David Mbugadu, called on the private sector in the country to contribute its own quota in providing assistance to HIV/AIDS patients in the country.
He explained that “dwindling revenues to the government coffers might impede government’s capacity to ensure that over three million HIV positive persons in the country are placed on drugs.”