By Asmau Ahmad
The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) has challenged every state in the country to take the lead in HIV response as countries work towards meeting the United Nations target of ending AIDS by 2030.
The Director General of the agency, Dr Gambo Aliyu said this at the third biannual programme performance and stakeholders’ engagement meeting of the U.S Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Nigeria held in Abuja.
“As we look towards 2030, we are also reminded that after 2030, HIV is likely to be an emergency situation that the global community will have to treat as an emergency.
So, when we change the course of HIV from an emergency situation to an endemic normal situation, what are those things that we must keep, and what are those things that we have to let go of?
“I don’t have answers to the questions right away, but this is the discussion that we must have. Who are the new players that are expected to join? How do we give these new players a space before 2030?” Aliyu said.
According to him, HIV response in the country is driven by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the Global Fund, the Federal Government, and other stakeholders.
He, however, said state governments are yet to take the lead in HIV response.
“At the centre, you see the Federal Government, and when you look for states, and you look for where states are in the equation, you will begin to ask questions, and you probably will have to put your Google to look in between the line for where they are located, and this has to change.
“As we move towards 2030, we want states prominently featuring in the driver’s seat, working with the implementing partners to implement the programmes, and be supported, be held accountable, as well as taking responsibility.
“There is no way the government at the centre will continue to dominate and continue to be responsible for the national response to HIV. This is the states’ job because almost 90 percent of the facilities where these services are given belong to states, almost 90 per cent of patients that have been at these facilities belong to the states, and probably almost 90 per cent of human resources for health that provide these services at the facilities belong to states. But the question is where are the states?
“We should see states feature prominently and lead the expected responses and us (the Federal Government) at the centre giving the states all the support in terms of logistics, and building capacity to make sure states own the responses.”
The NACA DG, who restated the need for country to take ownership of HIV response, noted that every state has to take responsibility and invest accordingly.
“We can’t talk about HIV epidemic control and how to sustain the response to HIV without looking at this critical sector, which is the states even as we move towards 2030.
“You can’t talk of country ownership without seeing states being actively engaged. States are expected to drive the response, contribute, and invest,” he said.
Meanwhile, Prof. Aliyu commended the U.S government for its generosity over the last two decades in HIV response in Nigeria.
He said the PEPFAR programme has helped to implement and record many achievements.
“I am saying this because we have had a wonderful programme that has not existed before, but today it has established structures and the structures are standing alone and they are doing well.
“We have standard laboratories that are manned proficiently, programmes implemented all over the country in urban and rural areas, and a supply chain system that has endured and continue to improve a data system that is informing our decision,” Aliyu added.