NLC, others decry non-release of anti-HIV drugs from ports
• NACA integrates treatment into health insurance schemes
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and some civil society organisations may protest non-release of antiretroviral drugs held up at various seaports across the country.
The Head, Occupational Health/Safety Desk of the NLC, Maureen Onyia-Ekwuazi, who spoke on the 2017 World AIDS day slated for December 1, lamented that most of the drugs are expiring owing to long stay at the ports.
She said: “I join the civil society groups in calling on the Federal Ministry of Finance to give whatever waver that is required to get all the commodities that are still in the various ports accumulating demurrage so that our people can have access to the drugs they need.
“Nigeria claims it does not have money, then foreigners send us commodities and we leave them at the ports until they expire. Why should we do this to ourselves? If the ministry that is supposed to grant waiver fails to do so very soon, we will give them a deadline and then go to knock on their doors to ask for our commodities. If government cannot buy, why can’t they release those that are given to us free of charge?”
Onyia-Ekwuazi charged civil society groups to intensify pressure on government at all levels to ensure that more people living with HIV virus are included in the free treatment scheme. The executive secretary of Civil Society for HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (CiSHAN), Walter Ugwuocha, also bemoaned the non-release of the antiretroviral drugs.
“We have containers of commodities that are donated by foreigners but are still languishing at the ports and have incurred huge demurrage. We are calling on the Federal Ministry of Finance to ensure that the containers are released so that the commodities are used for the purposes they are meant for,” he said.
The Director General of National Agency for the Control of AIDS, Dr. Sani Alitu, hinted that steps were being taken to integrate HIV services into the national, state and community health insurance schemes.
According to the NACA boss, country ownership and sustainability are crucial for effective and efficient AIDS response. He revealed that the HIV sustainability roadmaps developed by states have been endorsed.
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