Acting President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has expressed deep worry over the current prevalence of the dreaded HIV/AIDS pandemic in the country. He reiterated that the Federal Government will not relent in partnering and co-operating with relevant agencies to stem the health problem.
Meanwhile, over four hundred thousand children in Africa are born with HIV virus yearly, the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) Michel Sidibe has said.
Receiving in audience UNAID Executive Director, Mr. Michel Sidibe, and the US Global AIDS Coordinator, Amb. Eric Goosby, at the State House, Abuja yesterday, Jonathan said the government is concerned about the HIV/AIDS scourge, particularly, the prevalence of mother to child transmission of the virus.
He emphasized the need to get the correct statistics on the disease and to harness resources from federal, states and donor agencies in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Jonathan appreciated the contributions of both the UN and US government in the fight against HIV/AIDS, particularly in Africa and implored them not to rest on their oars.
Earlier, Sidibe canvassed increased funding by African countries of HIV/AIDS programmes noting that 94 per cent of funds for such programmes still come from outside the continent.
He also requested that Nigeria should use its position to influence African Union's Declaration on Prevention of Mother to Child transmission of HIV/AIDS. In addition, he said Nigeria and South Africa should collaborate to put up a preventive message on HIV/AIDS during the 2010 World Cup.
Amb. Goosby on his part said the US remains committed to Nigeria as a partner in the fight against HIV/AIDS. He said his country holds Nigeria in high regard and will sustain its campaign programmes on the scourge.
Meanwhile, Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibe also disclosed that 15 percent of HIV positive children born on the continent die before their first birthday due to poverty, ignorance and limited access to treatment. He described the situation as unacceptable especially when developed countries "record zero percent of children born with HIV".
Sidibe disclosed this yesterday in Abuja, at a high-powered meeting with the Minister of Health, Professor Babatunde Osotimehin , Minister of State for Health, Dr Aliyu Idi-Hung, Ambassador Eric Goosby, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief( PEPFAR), Professor John Idoko, Director General of the of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), and the US ambassador to Nigeria, Robin Sanders.
According to the UNAIDS Executive Director,15 percent of HIV positive children born on the continent die before their first birthday due to poverty, ignorance and limited access to treatment. He described the situation as unacceptable especially when developed countries "record zero percent of children born with HIV".
While calling on Nigeria and other African countries to adopt the Universal Access approach in implementing strategies to manage HIV/AIDS, the UNAIDS boss explained that the meeting conveyed at the Federal Ministry of Health, on Monday, had become necessary if Africa is to stem the ugly trend where its future leaders are stricken by an incurable disease at birth.
He said that Africa has what it takes to produce its first HIV-free generation by 2015, citing examples of earlier health sector reforms adopted in Abuja, he declared that the Nigerian government played an integral role is the successes recorded in health care delivery and the response to HIV/ADS in some African countries which implemented the reforms locally.
He words: "I am convinced that if we don't engage Nigeria in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa we have failed. This because Nigeria spearheaded a number of health sector reforms in Africa and the world. The process for establishing the Global Fund started here in Nigeria. I am just coming from South Africa where Swaziland, Botswana, have implemented the Abuja Accord, setting aside not less that 15 percent of their annual budget for health care delivery".
Sidibe also warned that African countries must "take ownership of its national response". He said African governments have no option as 94 percent of its citizens receiving Anti Retroviral drugs are being financed by donor countries.
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