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Institute urges governors to allocate 0.5 % budget to treat HIV/AIDS patients

By Asma’u Ahmad

The Institute of Human Virology in Nigeria (IHVN) has called on State Governments in the country to allocate 0.5 per cent of their annual budget to manage HIV/AIDS patients.

The Chief Executive Officer of the IHVN, Dr Patrick Dakum, made the call in an interview with newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday. According to him, allocating between 0.5 to one per cent of states’ budget is in line with the recommendation of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA).

Dr. Patrick Dakum

He said this had become necessary in order to ensure sustainability in the treatment of HIV/AIDS patients throughout the country. Dakum said the sustainability issue had become very critical because 95 per cent of HIV/AIDS patients in Nigeria are receiving treatment through funding by several donor agencies.

‘’If you look at that, of the one million and fifty thousand patients taking their treatment today, about one million of them take the treatment through funding provided by these agencies.

“So, if the donor agencies, as a result of anything decide to stop it, what do we do with this one million people that are on treatment, life-long treatment? And you know for HIV once you stop the drugs, the virus would bounce back in your blood and you begin to get the symptoms again.

“So for us, the sustainability issue has to do with bridging the gap in funding from donor agencies. But I must commend the leadership  of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS(NACA)  because it has taken the driver’s seat in working toward ensuring that Nigeria plays its role as far as sustainability is concerned,” he said.

The chief executive officer stated that dedicating 0.5 per cent of the states’ budget to taking care of HIV/AIDS patients was not too much. Dakum said this was because of the contribution that those patients, since they are now healthy, were making to the economy of their states and to the national economy.

“So, dedicating an amount to keep them alive, I think, is a moral responsibility that we must take as a country. Beyond that is also mobilising funding for the private sector; the Director-General of NACA has assured us that efforts are being made to mobilise funds from the private sector,” he added.

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