Aids Health Foundation ( AHF) Nigeria has called on the World Bank to change the current classification of Nigeria as a middle income country (MICs) and review how it group countries by income level to take into cognizance disease burdens, unequal pay and quality of life.
Speaking during a press conference in Abuja, the foundation Country Program Manager, Dr. Adetayo Towolawi said the recent classification of certain countries as Middle-Income-Countries (MICs) have necessitated a global campaign, spearheaded by AHF with support from over 500 organizations and partners.
He explained that designations for Low, Middle and High-Income countries are set by World Bank in consultation with government based on the countries' Gross National Income, an approach that grossly understates the extent of poverty in the MICs.
These MICs account for over 70% of the world's poorest people and majority of the people living with HIV/AIDS reside in the MICs. Middle Income countries like Nigeria, Kenya and Zambia contribute to these staggering figures.
"If the International poverty line set by the world bank is $1.25 per day, why then are countries with per capita income as little as $2.86 per day considered Middle Income countries?" Adetayo asked.
The implications of Middle income classifications on countries according to Adetayo is that "Middle income countries receive less foreign aid because of their status and have to pay 10 times more for essential medicines and medical commodities compared to Low-income countries."
Adding that in Nigeria's HIV/AIDS sector, patients are being charged "User Fee" for routine tests; largely as a result of cut back in donor funds, and that Swaziland has the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the world, but its upgrading to MIC status has led to an end in Condom support from donors.
While commending the World Bank's commitment to eradicate poverty and promote shared prosperity Adetayo said "we believe that for the World Bank to truly accomplish its mission, it must reconsider how it classifies countries along income lines."
He called on Nigerian government through the Minister of finance to cause an active review of Nigeria's Middle-income classification, taking into cognizance the realities of disease burden, poverty level; and the recent issues around the economy.