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With NACA Blueprint, no Nigerian should die of HIV/AIDS henceforth – declares Jonathan

By The Citizen
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Worried by the growing spate of HIV/AIDS cases in Nigeria due to poor coordination of  the available resources,  President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday declared that with the blueprint on implementation by the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA),  no Nigerian should die henceforth as a result of the disease.

The President stated this at the President’s Emergency Response Plan (PERP) for HIV/AIDS in Nigeria 2013-2015,  held at the banquet hall of the presidential villa, with state governors, development partners and donor agencies in attendance.
President Jonathan while noting that the meeting marks the turning point of management of HIV/AIDS in the country, said that only a structured strategy with clearly defined roles and funding from stakeholders – federal, state governments and donor agencies, will bring about tangible reduction of the disease in the country.

He assured that beyond rhetoric, it was no longer going to be business as usual, adding that he was presently very uncomfortable with the management of HIV/AIDS. “I want today to be a day that we will all remember as a turning point to the approach to the management of HIV/AIDS in the country. It was during one of the occasions that Senior Special Assistant to the President on the Millennium Development Goals, briefed us on the activities and our plan as a nation in terms of the management of HIV, I must say I am not too comfortable. It appears we do not have a comprehensive plan.

“And I think that if we must successfully manage HIV/AIDS, then we must have a comprehensive plan. We must know for example, how many anti retroviral drugs doses we need as a nation, for a month and for a year; how many do we need for Bayelsa state, how many do we need for Enugu state, how many do we need for Lagos state, how many do we need for Benue state, etc. How can we fund it? What are the states spending? What is the federal government spending? What are we getting from our development partners? The funding gap: can we collectively procure these drugs to reduce cost? How do we make sure that all Nigerians even know anything about HIV/AIDS to avoid new infections or transmission?

“I believe that we don’t have that kind of comprehensive plan. As a Vice President during my interaction with DG NACA, I had said that it appears as a nation we are spending a lot of money on HIV/AIDS but with little results. States are spending, federal government is spending, companies are spending, departments of government, maybe armed forces, police and others, everybody is spending. There is no proper collaboration. So, at the end of the day, we are spending more money than the kind of result that we are getting. And until we get a comprehensive blueprint where everybody keys in and we know clearly the role the federal government will play, what will be the role of the federal government. What and what should the federal government do in a comprehensive approach to HIV management? What will be the role of the state government? What will be the role of our development partners? What critical segment of this approach are they filling, are they taking care of some aspects of the advocacy, capacity building or are they providing some of the anti retroviral drugs or test kits or other things that we need?

“And of course, the armed forces, the police and some well organized private sector that we believe are willing to assist us if things are properly structured to play some role. Are plans to bring all these actors together? Even some areas where we expect to get some assistance, we are not getting. Corporate bodies cannot bring their money except they are very sure that money will be used properly”, he stated.