THE Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Plateau chapter, has tasked the Federal Government to support the fight against HIV/AIDS through adequate funding and a strong political will.
Dr Dajel Bulus, the Plateau Chairman, NMA, made this appeal on Saturday during a public lecture and free screening it organised to mark the 2018 World AIDS Day.
The World AIDS Day is held on the 1st December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died.
The theme for 2018 World AIDS Day, which is the first ever global health day held for the first time in 1988, is “Know Your Status.”
Globally there are an estimated 34 million people who have the virus. Despite the virus only being identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.
Bulus said there was the need for government to step up its funding to ensure that the over 3.1 million people, who are on anti-retroviral drugs in the country did not perish for lack of drugs.
He commended the current plan by all the state governments in Nigeria to contribute one per cent of their monthly Federal Revenue Allocation to fight HIV.
Bulus said this was a right step as international donor agencies supporting the fight against HIV/AIDS programmes were beginning to withdraw their support.
He further tasked governments at both the national and state levels to ensure peace and security in all communities, saying that displacement of people and frequent movement of security agencies fueled the spread of HIV.
The NMA chairman noted that the displacement of persons also leads to the interruption of adherence to treatment by crises victims who are on anti-retroviral drugs.
Similarly, Dr Pukup Butwatda, the Chairman, NMA 2018 World Aids Day Planning Committee, called for continuous screening for HIV positive victims, saying that it was only when people are screened that they could be placed on treatment and care.
Earlier, Rev. Chris Damcher, the Plateau State Coordinator, Civil Society for HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (CISHAN), called for the removal of user fees in treatment facilities.
Damcher said the user fees negated the rights of individuals living with HIV/AIDS to access treatment and care.