The Federal Government said on Monday that it would support the fight against HIV/AIDS programmes through the National Health Insurance Scheme ( NHIS ) in 2018.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said this at the opening of a two-day Nigeria HIV/AIDS intervention symposium in Abuja. Adewole said that the support had become important because of the prevalence of the epidemic in the country and the world at large.
He explained that in 2016, the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS ( UNAIDS ) report had revealed that 36.7 million people live with HIV and AIDS globally, out of which Nigeria contributed 10 percent of this burden.
According to him, out of every 10 HIV positive persons in the world is a Nigerian. “President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is poised to reverse this ugly trend by making prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV infection one of the signatory projects in the health sector.
“I am making this pledge that the Nigerian leadership is committed to supporting all interventions that will ensure sustainable reduction of new HIV and AIDS infections in Nigeria.
“Nigerian’s HIV and AIDS response plan has equally benefited from increased government funding. “Furthermore, an additional one billion naira has been approved by the National Assembly through National Health Insurance Scheme ( NHIS ), to support the HIV and AIDS programme in the country,” he said.
The minister said that an estimated 3.2 million people live with HIV and AIDS in Nigeria, which ranked only behind South Africa.
He said that although no fewer than one million Nigerians presently had means to anti-retroviral treatment, access to care by those in need remained a challenge. The health boss advised the participants to imbibe sustainable HIV and AIDS control programmes as well as increase health care service delivery services to achieve meaningful growth.
He also called for proper data management on the number of persons with HIV to encourage strategic planning, realization of fights against the epidemic and also reduce gaps in the national health sector response.
The event which attracted stakeholders across the country featured discussion on challenges and way forward for preventive strategies on HIV and AIDS.