Written by Ijeoma UKAZU

Expert tasks FG on alternative HIV/AIDS funding

As donor fund for HIV treatment continue to shrink in the country, a clinician at Nigeria Institute of Medical Research, NIMR, Lagos, Dr. Dan Onwujekwe, said that the effect of total withdrawal without alternative source of funding for HIV would not be good for Nigeria.

Speaking to our correspondent in Lagos, Onwujekwe said that "NIMR still receive HIV Anti retro viral drugs at the centre but we pray it does not change. The gradual withdrawal of these donor agencies should be a wakeup call to the federal, state and local government to seek alternate method to sustain HIV/AIDS related programs before the final withdrawal sets in.

"The United State President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief, PEPFAR,  took a wise decision not to pull out from the HIV intervention support completely from Nigeria but preferred to do that gradually, if not,‎ it would have been a death sentence.

"We have so many HIV positive persons in NIMR Clinic and we use electronic records. Right now, they are made to pay for service charge which is used to purchase diesel to run the generator set for the prescription of drugs for over 700 persons that come to the centre on daily basis and addition of 200 persons that come for consultation.

"A lot of these persons living with HIV are indigent and do not have money to pay for the service charge and sometimes we pay for them or look for people to help out. We cannot close our eyes to such persons who for no fault of theirs are unable to pay for these drugs they used to get free. That is how the donor funds dwindling is affecting us."

Onwujekwe added that "PEPFAR was on full operation in Nigeria for over 10 years on an emergency plan and warned that the relief plan will end someday but nobody took them seriously. They kept asking what programme was in place to sustain the HIV care but no response to that regard was given."

Calling on government to have a plan for persons living with HIV/AIDS to avoid a resurgence, the president of Federation of Muslim Women Association in Nigeria, FOMWAN, Lagos State, Dr. Ajoke Ashiru‎, said HIV/AIDS donor funds are shrinking gradually and government do not have a choice than to come to the aid of these Nigerians, adding that an action plan should be on ground.

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