Dr Bilali Camara, UNAIDS Country Director, said on Thursday that four companies will commence production of anti-retroviral drugs in Nigeria.
Camara, who is also the UNAIDS Focal Point for ECOWAS, disclosed in an interview with newsmen in Abuja. He said the local production of anti-retroviral drugs would enable people access treatment at a cheaper rate. He added that it will also help those on life treatment, stressing that people live on treatment for 15 to 30 years.
“We have commenced negotiations with four pharmaceutical companies; the companies have been certified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the general manufacturing practices,” he said. The official said WHO would assist to conduct the prequalification processes, “and as soon as that is concluded they will commence the production of the anti-retroviral drugs in Nigeria’’.
Camara said many West and Central African states would benefit from the production, because nobody is producing the drugs in this region. He added that beside Nigeria, seven million other people may need the drugs for treatment from West and Central Africa, which shows that there is good return of investment to the companies. In related development, Camara said UNAIDS would enter into partnership with telecommunication companies to ensure that basic information about HIV/AIDS was advertised.
He said this would assist to further increase access to treatment to 101 million people in Nigeria are targeted. “We want to give more people access to basic information on HIV/AIDS. We want our target to know how to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV where and how to get HIV/AIDS related services.So that in the next few years we have more people accessing the services which many result into many infants born HIV positive mothers and born infants without the disease,” he said.
Accoring to him, “if we do it correctly it will effect on the overall HIV transmission in the country’’. Camara said: “Things are going in the right direction, more people are on treatment, more people are accessing preventive measures and new infections are coming down. It is not as speedy as we want it but clearly things are on the right track.”