Port Harcourt — State governments may be required to fund treatment of persons affected by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) as donor agencies gradually withdraw their assistance due to paucity of funds.
The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) Head, Performance Management Division, Kemi Ladeinde, who stated this during an advocacy visit to the Rivers State Ministry of Health in Port Harcourt yesterday, said due to the gradual withdrawal of funding for HIV/AIDS projects by international donors, states in Nigeria would be required to take more responsibility in the treatment of persons living with HIV/AIDS.
Ladeinde explained that the advocacy for states to be more involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS had become imperative, especially for states like Rivers, which allegedly has one of the highest prevalent rates (15.2 per cent) in the country.
"Most of the donor agencies that usually fund HIV activities in Nigeria are getting fatigue and they are withdrawing gradually. So, we have to take the bull by the horn by getting more involved. The state governments need to take more responsibility now so that we can have a sustainable response to HIV/AIDS," she said.
Meanwhile, Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Princewill Dike, has berated the Federal Government for wanting to abdicate its social responsibility to fend for persons living with HIV/AIDS.
Princewill, who, however, charged the Federal Government to live up to its responsibility to the citizenry, particularly those living with HIV/AIDS, said: "Federal Government has to live up to its expectation. The Federal Government is not living up to its expectation. It is not everything you push to the states. There should be no politics in health."
Besides, he faulted NACA's statistics, which puts HIV/AIDS prevalent rate in Rivers State at 15.2 per cent. He described this as part of medical politics and unfair to the state.
He said that as medical practitioner and research medical scientist, he had on assumption of office reflectively rejected the NACA statistics because it was unrealistic and untenable.
According to him, evidence abound that those who carried the 2012 and 2014 surveys, which NACA was still relying on, did not visit most places of Rivers State, particularly the coastal areas.
"There are parts of Rivers State that you will be on the boat for two to three hours before you can reach there. These people who collect data did not go to these places. So, how did you get your data," he said.