Amidst panic worldwide that the HIV?AIDS pandemic is leading growth in opportunistic diseases like tuberculosis and leprosy in the Third World, a medical doctor and Nigeria’s Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki has joined the pack of those raising alarm.
He is particularly worried that global funders are turning away from the country, in a move seen by analysts as payback for the country’s less than transparent way of managing past disbursements; and her unco-operative attitude to certain international “interests.”
Saraki, who spoke in Abuja, did not give details on how the National Assembly he said will work out an interim measure, will shore up the funding gaps to help the over three million persons living with the disease.
Speaking on the World Health Day, Nigeria’s number three citizen called for increased global attention for HIV/AIDS funding in Nigeria.
In a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media & Publicity, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, stated that with the decision by major foreign donors to suspend funding for Nigeria’s HIV/AIDs programs, the fate of over 3.4million Nigerians living with the infection would remain uncertain.
“Information at our disposal reveals that significant global support for HIV/AIDs in Nigeria has been withdrawn,” the Senate President said, “In order not to jeopardize the treatment of the millions of Nigerians that are living with HIV and AIDS, at this point, government at all levels must continue to work with our international partners to identify alternative sources of funding.
“Without careful planning now, the negative impact of the funding decrease in HIV/AIDs programming is not far off. The fire brigade approach will not work on this issue, foresight, preparation and strategies must be put in place to mitigate against the potential threat to human life.
“Additionally, we must assemble a team of prominent medical professionals and eminent Nigerians both at home and abroad to create a campaign to persuade the donor community to reconsider their decision to stop HIV/AIDs funding,” he said.
The Senate President also stated that the Senate would work to ensure that there are no gaps in the HIV/AIDS funding regime.
In a similar regard, Saraki expressed optimism about the fact that the government’s external funding requests and the 2017 budget contain provisions to fund initiatives aimed at rolling back the spread of polio and cholera, which have experienced gradual resurgence in the Northern part of the country.
“With the various challenges facing Nigerian’s health infrastructure, now is not the time to retreat on HIV/AIDS. The loss of funding will create immediate stress on an already overburdened system. We can overcome the threat, but what will be the unforeseen price?”