The Director-General of National Council on AIDS (NACA), Prof. John Idoko, Monday bemoaned the N700 billion funding gap in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Nigeria despite the over N210 billion (about $1.3 billion) committed by Global Fund to the fight against the disease and others, many of which are in sub-Saharan Africa.
Particularly bothered about Nigeria's level of internal funding vis-a-vis the $1.2 billion (about N190 billion) committed to the fight by South Africa last year, Idoko said there was need for Nigeria to do a lot more about generating its own fund with which to combat the disease.
He lamented that with 300,000 new infections of HIV yearly, Nigeria was now second to South Africa as leaders in the number of infections of the epidemic, but expressed delight that for the first time, the continent's most populous country was now able to mobilise some fund for the battle.
Speaking at a news conference with Global Fund's principal recipients and partners in Nigeria, Idoko said: "The money should come from here more. South Africa committed $1.2 billion to the HIV programme last year. There is need to get more money from Nigeria."
The Senior Fund Portfolio Manager, High Impact Africa 1, of Global Fund, Colette Selman, said of the $1.3 billion budgeted by her organisation, $335 million was for the fight against HIV/AIDS while about $200 million was for malaria.
She however said there was need to replenish their funds and urged stakeholders to prevail on potential donors to take up the gauntlet.
Dr Patrick Dakum, Chief Executive Officer of Institute of Human Virology, bewailed the high incidence of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis associated with HIV/AIDS, saying the syndrome, caused by non-adherence to prescribed treatment schedules, costs $7,000 to treat at a much longer period of 17 months as against the regular TB which could be treated with between $10 and $30 over six months.
He said effective treatment was the best solution to the disease, adding that 144 Nigerians were now receiving treatment for the multi-drug resistant TB with support from Global Fund in the last few months.
President/CEO of Association of Reproductive and Family Health, Prof. Oladapo Ladipo, said Nigeria had an estimated burden of 17.5 million orphans and vulnerable children from all causes out of which 2.3 million were from AIDS as at 2008 while 360,000 children below 17 years were HIV-positive as at 2010.