The Federal Government of Nigeria has launched a one year roadmap for the implementation of a national treatment programme for HIV patients in Nigeria.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, made this known at a press briefing on the implementation of the Roadmap of National Treatment and Prevention from Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) Programme which held in Abuja, recently. He added that the programme seeks to galvanize Nigeria’s HIV treatment efforts towards diagnosing 90% of all HIV- positive persons, providing antiretroviral therapy (ART) for 90% of those diagnosed and achieving viral suppression for 90 percent of those treated by the year 2020.
Isaac Adewole noted the imperative for Nigeria to take more responsibilities in her HIV response going by the high burden of the disease in the country. According to him, the National Treatment Programme has three main objectives: to build an institutional structure at national and sub-national levels for effective coordination and implementation of HIV programmes nationwide; building capacity and strengthening the health sector response and ownership of HIV programmes at all tiers of implementation and mobilising resources for programme implementation.
He informed that the programme is already up and running in 7+1 States which are termed the ‘Burden States.’ He identified the States to include: Abia, Taraba, Benue, Cross River, Nasarawa, Lagos, Kaduna and the FCT.
“Presently, almost all the States mentioned above are implementing fast tracking initiatives which cover the TEST and TREAT Strategy. We must press forward by harnessing private sector support and reaching all Nigerians living with HIV with appropriate services. This, I believe will aid the attainment of the desired goals of reducing new HIV infections to the barest minimum,” he espoused.
The Minister urged the private sector, corporate organizations, multinational and independent bodies to invest in HIV management and contribute towards sustainable healthcare delivery in the country.
In his welcome address at the event, the Minister of State for Health, Osagie Ehanire (Dr) said that the National Treatment Programme and PMTCT Programme would strengthen the response to HIV programme implementation with the enrolment of a further 50,000 patients on Anti- Retroviral Treatment.
In his goodwill message, the outgoing World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative in Nigeria, Wondi Alemu (Dr) commended the Federal Government and the Ministers of Health for re-vitalising and launching the PMTCT Programme.
While describing the programme as his parting gift and a flagship in HIV prevention and control, Wondi Alemu urged various tiers of the Nigerian Government to take ownership of the programme in that it would bring supportive actions to all efforts invested in HIV treatment. He also advised the health sector to look at the possibility of harnessing additional funds from States and Local Governments for the programme so as to reduce over reliance on partners and donors.
Also speaking, the UNICEF Country Representative in Nigeria, Mohammed Fall said that the world is watching Nigeria’s response to its high burden of HIV because of the belief that the problem of HIV in the Sub-Saharan Africa could not be solved exclusively by Nigeria. He charged Nigeria to take up the challenge and show the world that it can reduce its high burden of HIV as well as infant infection.