By Zayamu Hassan
The Federal Government of Nigeria has advised the State Houses of Assembly to pass the antidiscrimination bill for the residents of the state.
He gave the advice at the commemoration of the 2022 World AIDS Day in Abuja last Thursday.
He further urged governors of the 36 states to abolish the payment of user fees that limit access of pregnant women to antenatal Services during pregnancy.
According to him, “addressing inequalities for equal access to prevention and treatment services requires innovative approaches and one of such at the level of state governments is the acceleration of health insurance coverage for informal and formal sectors with a view to promoting inclusivity of marginalized groups, pregnant women, children and key populations.
“I equally urge state governments to fund and support programmes which address structural barriers including ensuring educating the girl child and proper funding to state government entities and MDAs at the forefront of providing access to such services.”
While emphasizing that the federal government is focused on ending HIV by 2030, Boss Mustapha warned that the achievements so far recorded in the fight against HIV still remained an unfinished business because of barriers that pose a threat to ending AIDS by 2030 if not tackled headlong.
He, therefore, urged all stakeholders “to do all that is necessary to ensure equal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services devoid of stigma for children, adolescent and key populations who have been left behind.”
The SGF revealed that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government has successfully reduced AIDS related deaths from an estimated 264,463 persons at the beginning of this administration in 2015 to about 51,000 as at October this year.
He noted that ongoing efforts to improve access to HIV services has led to a significant reduction in new HIV infections from over 103,000 in 2019 to 92,323 in 2021.
“Treatment access experienced tremendous improvement since this administration came on board and we can gladly proclaim that access to Anti-Retro Viral Drugs and treatment for HIV has increased more than two fold in the past five years with about 1.8 million persons now on treatment compared to about 800,000 persons on treatment in 2017,” he stressed.
Speaking earlier, the Director General of NACA, Dr Gambo Aliyu, reiterated that Nigeria is focused on achieving epidemic control with about 90 per cent of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) already identified and currently on treatment.
He disclosed that Nigeria has recorded significant growth in key population treatment sites from 10 in 2017 providing treatment to about 16,000 PLHIV to 118 sites in 2021 with coverage of over 220,000.
While emphasizing the need to tackle inequalities, Dr Aliyu said: “We have only eight years left before the 2030 goal of ending AIDS as a global health threat. Economic, social, cultural and legal barriers leading to inequalities must be addressed as a matter of urgency.
“Indeed, the end of AIDS can only be achieved if we tackle the inequalities which drive it.”