Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria Needs Over N700 Billion for Anti-Retroviral Drugs - NACA

Abuja — Prof. John Idoko, the Director-General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), says more that N700 billion is needed to achieve universal access to anti-retroviral (ARVs) drugs in Nigeria.

Idoko said this on Monday at a media roundtable for principal recipients of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Abuja in partnership with NACA.

The recipients are the Society for Family Health, Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH) and the Institute for Human Virology.

He explained that there was a huge gap between persons accessing anti-retroviral drugs and those requiring them, stressing that government must commit resources towards meeting their need.

"Presently, only 432,000 persons living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA) are accessing the drugs in contrast with the 1.5 million people needing it.

"We have realised that the Federal Government need to commit more funds to this cause; drugs are critical they interrupt transmission," he said.

He explained that Nigeria was the second most burdened by HIV and AIDS in the world, hence the need to gather support to help in fighting the scourge.

Idoko said that government should focus more on making HIV treatment cheaper by reducing the cost of drugs and tests, adding that there was the need to strengthen the health systems.

The director-general said that 12 states had HIV burden, adding that PMTCT gap should be closed by ensuring that all pregnant women had access to services to reduce new infections.

The ARFH President, Prof. Oladapo Ladipo, said that Nigeria had an estimated burden of 17.5 million Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs), stressing that 2.3 million of them were orphaned by AIDS.

He said that presently, an estimated 360,000 children were HIV positive, and that care and support for OVCs should be focused on.

The Managing Director, Society for Family Health, Mr Bright Ekweremadu, said that the society had embarked on HIV counselling and testing for 1.8 million Nigerians.

He said that the group partnered with the media on behaviour change communication to raise awareness on HIV prevalence, stressing that this would reduce it to the barest minimum.

Ekweremadu added that the society had been working to ensure that products such as contraceptives, female condoms, etc were available and affordable to those needing it. (NAN)

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