The Network of People Living With HIV/AIDS (NEPWHAN), has said that out of the estimated 3.5 million Nigerians living with HIV/AIDS, only about 700,000 have access to anti-retroviral treatment, meaning that 2.8 million Nigerians have no access to treatment. It also raised the alarm that these 2.8 million people living with HIV may be on their way to untimely death if the government does not act fast to arrest the situation. This was disclosed yesterday in Abuja by the chairman of NEPWHAN’s board of trustees, Abdulrahman Momodu, at the inauguration of new executives of the association.
He said though the board of trustees, since the establishment of NEPWHAN in 1998 has refrained from making public statements on issues, there were compelling reasons now why the association must speak so as to draw the attention of the government to their plight, whose existence is now being threatened by declining care and support. He said, “it is on this note that we passionately appeal to Mr President to do all within his power to prevent avoidable death.”
As a result of what he described as donor fatigue, Momodu said, “the sad news also, is that people living with HIV/AIDS now pay for services that used to be free and those that are unable to pay are left with no option than to go home and die.” The chair, Board of Trustees, said it is a big risk for the country to leave over 3.5 million Nigerians living with HIV/AIDS at the mercy of donor partners. According to him, with the government taking a lead role funding HIV programme, it will be easy to test, treat and sustain the services.
Also in his remarks, the chairman of the occasion, assistant director, National AIDS and STIs Control Programme (NASCAP), Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Emeka Asadu, said it is the responsibility of government to ensure that only the best interventions and recommendations are approved for use in Nigeria.