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UN commends Nigeria’s bold step towards ownership, sustainability of HIV treatment programme

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The United Nations system in Nigeria and the United States Embassy in Nigeria have acknowledged Nigeria’s commitments and recent bold actions to ending Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) as a public health threat by 2030.

In a joint communication to President Muhammadu Buhari, the development partners’ leadership on HIV commended Nigeria for the bold steps towards national ownership and sustainability of the HIV treatment programme.

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According to the group, this undeterred political will and commitment are demonstrated through five building blocks put in place by the government. These include: The historic commitment to maintain 60,000 Nigerian Persons Living with HIV (PLHIV) on treatment financed by the Government, while making additional Government resources available to put a further 50,000 on treatment yearly; the re-establishment of the National Treatment and Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission/PMTCT Programme (NTPP), in November 2018, to provide the framework for budget appropriation, drive harmonisation and alignment of the development partners’ HIV investments, and foster country leadership, ownership and long-term sustainability; government budgetary appropriation and timely release of funds for increased coverage of life-saving antiretroviral therapy (ART) for the people living with HIV in Nigeria; the recent granting of the exceptional Presidential waiver that allows the government to procure life-saving antiretroviral (ARV) medicines, through competitive international platforms, yielding at least 30 per cent in efficiency gains and guaranteeing value for money; and the launch of the full technical report of the Nigeria AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS), on September 25, 2020, which has paved the way for game changing targeted interventions for the HIV response in Nigeria

The UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Edward Kallon, recalled the President’s groundbreaking and bold commitment at the 2017 United Nations General Assembly in New York to place additional 50,000 Nigerians living with HIV on treatment every year, using domestic resources. “Your Excellency, your commitment, has increased coverage of life-saving antiretroviral therapy for the people living with HIV in Nigeria ensuring that more than 100,000 Nigerians are sustained on treatment,” he said.

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The United States Charges d’Affaires, Ms. Kathleen FitzGibbon, said: “The recent exceptional presidential waiver that allows the government to procure life-saving antiretroviral medicines, through competitive international platforms such as the Global Fund-administered WAMBO, ensures that quality drugs are procured directly from the manufactures at pre-negotiated affordable prices.”

Country Director for Nigeria, Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS), Dr. Erasmus Morah, referred to a quote by the National Coordinator of the Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, Mr. Abdulkadir Ibrahim: “We categorically support the use of the Global Fund-administered WAMBO platform as the cheapest way of procuring ARVs for our members. As a member of the Board of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) and as representative of the people living with HIV constituency, we want to express our sincere appreciation to His Excellency the President, the leadership of NACA and the leadership of Federal Ministry of Health.”

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