By Ndidi Chukwu
The Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN) has called on Nigerian government to take leadership and provide clear direction against emanating crisis following the nullified ban on purported HIV cure by Dr. Jeremiah Abalaka.
In Abuja, NEPWHAN Coordinator Dr. Edward Ogenyi said it’s member are currently battling with the removal of users fees for HIV treatment, which was given to its members some ten year ago during the Olusegun Obasanjo Administration, and will not want to see “the return” of controversial Abalaka who made news globally for purported HIV vaccine and cure he discovered.
Ogenyi expressed fear that people living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria will become gullible and fall for his antics due to the removal of user fees for HIV treatment in Nigeria.
“Those who are unable to pay for treatment are left to face options which include going without treatment and even seeking for traditional, spiritual, and other forms of treatment for HIV”
He noted that “the questionable HIV vaccine has not undergone clinical trials and has not been declared safe for human use”
The Network is also foreseeing that the ban or suspension on unsubstantiated HIV cure claims “would not stand the test of time if government does not provide treatment for those who are living with HIV as alternative to quacks” said Victor Omoshenyi, NEPWHAN’s National Scretary, while calling on its members to avoid the use of drugs that have not gone through clinical trials.
The Network also want the Attorney General of the Federation, and the Minister of Justice and all defendants in Abalaka’s HIV vaccine suit to appeal the judgment of the Makurdi Federal High Court to stay action on the execution of the judgment.
While urging Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) and the Nigerian Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) in collaboration with NAFDAC to react on the judgement, Members of NEPWHAN called on President Jonathan, to ensure that those with HIV have access to treatment by redeeming his promise on President Comprehensive Plan (PCRP) on HIV/AIDs and sign the anti stigma bill.
The Federal Government of Nigeria, on July 20th, 2000 banned Abalaka from any form of medical practice regarding the treatment of HIV/AIDS till his specimen undergoes clinical trials, Abalaka then did not submit the said specimen he claimed he discovered that could cure HIV/AIDS, but sued Nigeria, a Makurdi Federal High Court weeks ago announced the annulment of the ban, as there were no further legal backing to the ban as expected from the Nigerian Government.