Yemisi Ajayi ,Ibadan
The wife of oyo state governor, Dr.(Mrs) Florence Ajimobi, has called on the National Council on AIDS (NCA) to remove all charges levied for the treatment of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) for a sustainable fight against HIV/AIDS epidemics.
Dr.(Mrs) Ajimobi, who the Chairperson of Oyo State Agency for the Control of AIDS (OYSACA), made this call on Monday during the opening ceremony of the fifth NCA meeting, themed: “Beyond NAIIS: Planning, resourcing and taking action to achieve the 95:95:95 targets”.
She said that HIV treatment reduced mortality and morbidity among PLHIV and reduced their potential to infect others.
Mrs Ajimobi explained that the user fees has discouraged many PLHIV from seeking treatment and reduced access to treatment.
“The removal of the user fees is the only way we can make life easier for them and put an end to this epidemic, without a free access to treatment, we can’t improve thier quality of life and ensure they live meaningful and productive lives.
“It is my heartfelt desire, as I leave office, that NCA will look before a way to relieve PLHIV of the burden of paying any user fees or otherwise for their treatment.
“I hope that the NC will make Ibadan proud as the place where a lasting solution was agreed on to end this lingering problem militating access to lifesaving treatment for PLHIV and thier families,” she said.
She said that the state government appropriated over N200 million to OYSACA in the 2019 budget.
She pointed out that the funding from the state government had greatly help the agency to yield unprecedented achievements in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
“As this administration is drawing to an end, I will be transitioning out of my position as the Chairperson of OYSACA with a deep sense of gratitude to God and satisfaction that I’m leaving the agency a lot better than I met it, I am also fulfiled that a lot 9fnoives have been positively touched by my leadership of the agency”.
In his remarks, the Director General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr Sani Aliyu, said that bringing down the cost of HIV treatment is a priority of the present administration.
Aliyu emphasised that efforts are underway to get WHO pre-qualification for the production of antiretroviral drugs by some pharmaceutical companies based in the country.
“Clearly, a lot has happened in relation to the HIV/AIDS response since the last council meeting. “Key among them, which is also the central point of the current meeting, is the completion of the world’s largest population-based HIV/AIDS survey, the Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS).
“Preliminary results disclosed during the launch of the NAIIS factsheet, which peg the national prevalence at 1.4%, already show a great shift in the pattern of the epidemic across the country,” he said.
He noted that the agency had resolved to strengthen engagements with the private sector in order to improve enhance local ownership and sustainability in the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Also speaking at the event was Abdulkadir Ibrahim, who is the National Coordinator of Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN), however called on government at all levels to increase funding and budgetary allocation in the fight against HIV.
”While we appreciate the efforts of the international donor agencies and parnters we appeal to the federal and state governments to take the lead in financing HIV response and also ensure PLHIV have access to adequate care and support services,” he said.