Falling HIV Funds Leaves 1.2 Million Vulnerable

Daily Trust, Nigeria

22/09/2014

By Judd-Leonard Okafor

Continued shortfall in donor funding for HIV/AIDS programme could leave as many as 1.2 million people affected by HIV/AIDS vulnerable as domestic funding from the Nigerian government continues to dwindle.

The Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN) complained on Monday at the 31st International Candlelight Memorial for HIV/AIDS: “Domestic funding is dwindling and donors that are supporting us are withdrawing.”

Experts estimate up to 80% of HIV/AIDS spending in Nigeria is paid for by donor funding.

“What that means is our government must wake up to their own responsibilities, to place people on treatment,” said Edward Ogenyi, national coordinator of the network.

The President Comprehensive Response Plan unveiled by the Jonathan administration last year sought to bridge gaps in access to HIV/AIDS, including ensuring up to 80 million people know their HIV status. PCRP also plans to enroll some 600,000 on anti-retroviral therapy, which would also be provided to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus in at least 244,000 pregnant women.

The plan proposed prevention services for 500,000 most-at-risk population and to activate 2000 new delivery points each for anti-retroviral therapy and prevention of mother-t0-child transmission of HIV.

NEPWHAN said none of the targets to the PCRP had been achieved nearly a year after the plan came into effect.

More than 3 million people living with the virus in Nigeria, and many don’t know their status, and 1.2 million others urgently need treatment, said the network.

The PCRP could bring in up to N262.7 billion in domestic contribution to the national response, but another N198.5 billion is expected in external donor finance to meet total N461.2 billion required for full coverage of anti-HIV programme in the country.

But advocates claim only N8b–a 5.7% shortfall–was appropriated in the first year of PCRP under the subsidy reinvestment programme (SURE-P).

NEPWHAN urged the presidency to “authorize complete release of N8b appropriated for HIV/AIDS under the SURE-P to reduce new AIDS-related deaths in the country” as well as sign the anti-discrimination bill to make “conducive environment for HIV/AIDS response in Nigeria.”