By Ndidi Chukwu
Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWAN) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to consolidate on the President’s Comprehensive Response Plan (PCRP) for HIV/AIDS to ensure that the nation activates 2,000 PMTCT and ART centres needed to save newborn babies from HIV infections.
PCRP is an initiative by the former president Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, which articulates an intervention project for people living with HIV/AIDS to bridge already existing treatment gap in the country.
“ It also articulates the funding that will be needed to be able to put people on treatment, the implementation started in 2014, but nothing was achieved around that 2014, the funding that was received was about 8 billion naira through the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) being used now to implement HIV treatment programme in Taraba and Abia as pilot states, now with the coming on board of the new government my message to President Buhari is to look at what is already on ground, look at the merits and demerits of it” Edward Ogaenyi NEPWAN National Coordinator told Health Reporters in Abuja.
The NEPWAN Coordinator expressed worry that gradual withdrawal of funds from donors including Global Fund (GF) funding HIV treatment in Nigeria is exposing the nation to a disaster., “the president has to consolidate on what is on ground to ensure that funding is actually realised for HIV programme, because as a country we are getting to a disaster level, because so many people are no longer accessing their drugs because they cannot afford it. HIV treatment was made free because of its threat to development agenda of every country. The only way we can curb the spread is for the government to continue the funding for the treatment and encourage people to know their status, it is only when people know their status that they can be safe”
The comprehensive response plan is a document that the government of Nigeria should consolidate on, unveiled during the AU meeting in July 2013 PCRP has received commendations and adopted in many countries in the World but its implementation in Nigeria is yet to progress.
Contained in the document made available to Health Reporters, the PCRP promised to put on treatment additional 600,000 persons living with HIV, and activate 2,000 PMTCT (Prevention of mother to child transmission) and ART (Antiretroviral) centres in the country. It also promised to put on treatment many HIV positive women on prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV. “This is a document that has gone through a thought process and understood the treatment access gap and is trying to bridge those gaps. The targets and the milestone in that PCRP is expected to bridge the treatment access gap in Nigeria” Ogaenyi opined.