in , ,

HIV: Tackling inequality will save millions of lives- UNAIDS

By Dan-Maryam Zayamu
Tackling inequalities in the fight against HIV in the country will advance the human rights of key populations and people who are living with HIV, make societies better prepared to beat COVID-19 and other pandemics and support economic recovery and stability, the Country Director, UNAIDS Nigeria, Dr. Erasmus Morah, has said.
Dr. Morah who stated this at a media briefing to commemorate the 2021 World AIDS Day in Abuja, weekend, argued that fulfilling the promise to tackle inequalities will save millions of lives and will benefit society.
He, therefore, called for support for the HIV Trust Fund and country ownership of the fight against HIV and remove the barriers that encourage inequalities while putting communities at the center.
“If we have the right policy environment, the correct strategic framework, and the right systems including health, community, and other supporting systems, we can get it right.
“Let us support the HIV Trust Fund, let us support strong country ownership, and stamp out inequalities while putting communities at the center,” he said.  
While noting that there is still a huge funding gap Nigeria need to address for the fight against the disease  to be under control, the UNAIDS Chief said that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government has commenced incrementally paying for the treatment of Nigerians living with HIV using domestic resources, at 17% vs 83% HIV program resource contribution between the Government and donors respectively.
“There are still some funding gaps that the country needs to address as we are moving towards epidemic control,” he insisted.  
According to Dr. Morah: “There is urgent need for States to redeem their commitments to release 0.5 to 1.0% of their Federal monthly allocations to support the HIV response in their states.  
“For example, states should invest more in the procurement of HIV test kits as part of their counterpart contribution. This will go a long way towards halting the decline of HIV positive pregnant women accessing PMTCT services. Nigerian government needs to stop viewing healthcare as a consumption good. Health is a sensible investment, a nation’s source of wealth.”
The UNAIDS, therefore, applauded partners including PEPFAR, Global Fund, UN sister agencies that have consistently supported the country in the HIV response. He, therefore, charge the governments at all levels to “build on the momentum and ensure sustainable financing of HIV through the initiatives that are currently in place inclusive of HIV Trust Fund.”
Speaking earlier, the Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, Dr. Gambo Aliyu, noted that the Nigeria National response was in what he described as, the last mile of its epidemic control, therefore the push for sustainability is crucial.
“In this last mile of the National HIV response, the public and private sectors, the communities, and all stakeholders in the national response have roles to play to ensure epidemic control and sustainability – ensuring states ownership and AIDS remains on the political agenda; overcome all barriers that prevent access to services, create an enabling environment that promotes equal access; safeguard the rights of PLHIV and hold decision makers and implementers accountable.
“Recent evidences such as the mode of transmission studies and Integrated Biological and Behavioural Surveillance Survey (IBBSS) aimed at identifying the source and distribution of new infections and the populations at greatest risk of infection, show that never married individuals, all typology of the key populations and new infections from mother to child transmission are the drivers of the epidemic.
“So, interventions must be targeted at these population groups ensuring that evidences drives programme. Conscious effort must be made to address these emerging dynamics if we are to achieve epidemic control and sustain it.
“Furthermore, we must leverage on all effort in the past decades in ensuring that Nigeria is prepared for any biological threat that seeks to disrupt how we live our lives,” he said.

Written by ExpressDay

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Lawan flags off free medical outreach, animal vaccination in Yobe

Poor quality cripples trade relations, says NAFDAC