The 2018 edition of the Civil Society Accountability Forum is scheduled to hold on the 14th and 15th of December, 2018 in Abuja, Nigeria. The theme for this year’s conference is “Domestic Resource Mobilisation: Public and Private Sector Investment”.
The government – national, state and local – is expected to discuss domestic financing of the HIV response in Nigeria at the forum. This comes up closing on the heels of the commitment made by the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole at the PEPFAR 2018 COP meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa where he committed to performing a miracle by getting the Nigeria government to take substantial responsibility of the HIV treatment programme by funding procurement of commodities for the response.
He made this statement on the 22nd of February 2018 at the closing of the five days PEPFAR 2018 COP planning meeting.
Adewole noted that like South Africa, Nigeria should be leading its National Response and donors should only be complimenting the response. Sadly, this is the reverse.
Nigeria currently funds less than 20% of the National HIV response. The country also has no strategic plans on how it plans to transit the currently heavily PEPFAR and Global Fund subsidized response.
The country also has no annual plan that monitors how stakeholders strategically contribute to meeting set targets for the elimination of new HIV infections in the country.
Nigeria has one of the highest number of new HIV infection in Sub-Saharan Africa – in 2016, over 200,000 persons were infected with HIV (https://www.avert.org/professionals/hiv-around-world/sub-saharan-africa/nigeria).
In an effort to reposition the country, the Ministry of Health (NASCP) conveyed a meeting in Lagos in March 2018, to begin preliminary discussions on national funding of the HIV treatment in Nigeria. This is essential as there are current efforts to phase out the use of Efavirenz and replace this with Dolutagravir.
PEPFAR is already going ahead with the plan to switch therapy. Dolutagravir is more user-friendly, with less side effects and cost effective. The Civil Society under the leadership of Treatment Action Movement in collaboration with Afrocab, had been very active with pushing the country to switch therapy. This was one of the agenda for discussion at the 2016 Civil Society Accountability Forum.
The NASCP meeting not only focused on how to re-establish the national HIV treatment programme, but it also developed a roadmap for the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV in Nigeria. The roadmap was to have been presented to the Minister by the end of March 2018.
Unlike the Federal Ministry of Health, the National Agency for the Control of AIDS under the leadership of Dr Sani Aliyu, is focused not just on preventing mother to child transmission of HIV, but eliminating it in line with its 2017-2021 HIV and AIDS strategic plan. Nigeria contributes significantly to the global HIV epidemic having the highest number of babies born with HIV in the world. This is partly because only 30% of mothers living with HIV actually have access to HIV treatment programmes that can reduce the risk of mother to child transmission of HIV infection.
With the Minister committing to performing a miracle with the national HIV treatment programme before the coming in of a new government in 2019; and the National Agency for the Control of AIDS focusing its resources to eliminate mother to child transmission of HIV in Nigeria, it is critically important to listen to how the government has fared to date knowing 2020 is a miracle year for all – when AIDS should cease to be a global epidemic.
Can Nigeria keep its global commitment to the 2020 goal? We look forward to answers at the 2018 Civil Society Accountability Forum.