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FG Celebrates Increased HIV Treatment Coverage

Dr. Osagie Ehanire, the Minister of Health, has said that the federal government has fulfilled its promise of improvements in HIV treatment-coverage despite the disruptions induced by COVID-19. According to him, at the end of June 2020, Nigeria had 1,228,100 patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART), increased by 150,000 patients from June 2019, and a fulfilment of the pledge made by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR to increase the number of persons on HIV medication.

This disclosure was made at the World AIDS Day commemoration held on Tuesday at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.

Ehanire remarked that there was need to continue raising awareness about HIV, promoting the rights of people living with HIV, and ensuring that they has easy access to life-saving HIV medicines for them. 

“This year has been unique because of the new challenges to our Health System and our lives brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, in spite of which, I am pleased to note we are still on track to ending the AIDS epidemic in Nigeria”, he said.

He recognized the Network of People Living with HIV in Nigeria (NEPWHAN) for the important role they played in reaching patient communities all across the country, and in ensuring that patients could access their drugs continuously, notwithstanding the logistics challenges. In addition, the Honourable Minister said specific policy changes were rapidly adopted, to limit disruptions in access to HIV treatment.

Ehanire also stated the continued progress of Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) even though it was challenging, emphasising the ministry’s commitment to strengthening the link between PMTCT services and maternal and child health programmes including the provision of self-testing kit.

He stated that the theme for this year, United to End AIDS in the Midst of COVID-19, was about shared responsibility.

“We reaffirm the critical role of country ownership and sustainability as important elements of the endeavour, including domestic investment, an enabling environment and ensuring people-centered policy-making and implementation. It has also been demonstrated that community-led actions can help improve access and quality of services.”

Mr. Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, while speaking said the chosen theme was apt and promised that the government was committed to avoid the spread of HIV/AIDS while celebrating the recently approved COVID-19 vaccines.

“As Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, we have consciously taken steps at ensuring that as a country, our citizens do not or do the needful to avoid being infected or infect others with COVID-19,” he said.

He disclosed that with the two vaccines and the trial potentials, Nigeria as a country aligns fully with the global solidarity and shared responsibility which requires us to view global health responses including the AIDS response in a new way altogether.

The SGF stated that with the funding of an additional 50, 000 persons on treatment annually by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari was a clear testimony of the government commitment to global solidarity and shared responsibility to leave no one behind and that no one died as a result of HIV; adding that the approved Federal budget for 2020 had adequate provision for HIV to cover this presidential commitment.

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