Nigeria’s AIDS agency, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), has decried what it described as the country’s over-dependence on foreign funding for the campaign against HIV and AIDS.
The agency’s director general, Gambo Aliyu, who said this at the launch of his agency’s National Domestic Resource Mobilisation and Sustainability Strategy, noted that about $6.2 billion was spent to identify and treat 60 per cent of PLWHIV in Nigeria between 2005 and 2018.
He, however, noted that international donations account for more than 80 per cent of the said amount.
He said; “Between 2005 and 2018, about $6.2 billion dollars was spent to identify close to one million people living with HIV in this country and place them on treatment.
“However 80 per cent of this money came from international donors and development partners, only 18 per cent was contributed by the federal and state governments and one per cent came from the private sector.
Mr Aliyu said it is essential for national and state stakeholders to assume greater ownership of the HIV response including financing and strong accountability structures, adding that he was committed to mobilising local resources towards achieving the agency’s objective,
He said the strategy, which is designed to run from 2021 to 2025, is needed to monitor the use of the funds that are raised and to ensure that they are spent on activities that will continue to have real impact on people living with HIV/AIDS.
He said the initiative would reduce the over-dependence on international funding and help towards ensuring the availability of sustainable resources for the implementation of programmes to meet the 95:95:95 HIV target by 2030.
The target, he said, is to diagnose 95 per cent of all HIV positive persons, provide Antiretroviral Therapy (ARTs) for 95 per cent of those diagnosed, and achieve viral load suppression for 95 per cent of those treated by 2030.
He said, “sustaining HIV funding requires resource mobilisation and this resource mobilisation has always been external.
“It is time to mobilise resources domestically and to ensure that sustainability of HIV funding is guaranteed after epidemic control,” he said.
Mr Aliyu said it is important for a country’s strategy to reflect the need to expand its resource base and increase domestic resources to diversify sources of funding.
Call for increased budgetary allocation
In his remarks, the chairman of the house of representatives’ committee on AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Abubakar Dahiru, said there is an urgent need to improve on the budget allocated to NACA.
He said, “this 2022 budget, by the grace of God, the National Assembly, based on the Committee on ATM, and also our Senate partners, we felt that the budget of NACA should be improved by 100 percent.
“Based on our position, we have always felt that we are living on risk because if today the development partners decide to withdraw from Nigeria, believe me sincerely, we felt that at the end of the day we are going to crash between the zero level.”
Mr Dahiru urged state governors to contribute their own quota to the efforts of ending HIV/AIDS in the country.
He said the majority of the state governors “are not doing what they are supposed to do”.
“Most of the people living with HIV are in various states and it is the duty of our governors to look after their people.
“They are supposed to be doing (sending) their own contributions also to NACA. This way, at least, at the end of the day, the states will be able to see the impact, especially within the rural areas,” he said.
Speaking at the event, the country director of UNAIDS, Erasmus Morah, said Nigeria should learn from the South African experience of funding its HIV response by 80 per cent.
He said it is necessary for Nigeria to key into the UN shared responsibility and global solidarity module and not overburden international donors.
He said; “Who is paying for the 1.6 million Nigerians who are on treatment? If the payer should change their mind, what happens to these people who need the drugs for the rest of their lives.
“So, this particular agenda we are calling domestic resource mobilisation and sustainability agenda, is about how do we pay to keep Nigerians from getting infected from HIV, and more importantly, how do we pay to ensure that those who are in treatment currently can comfortably remain on treatment, and that the remaining 20 to 30 percent who are not on treatment are brought on treatment?”