By Michael Peter, The Sight News
Abuja:The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC has expressed disappointment with the achievement level of the Anti Retroviral Therapy, ART Program in Nigeria, describing it as very discouraging.
HIV Care and Treatment Branch Chief in CDC’s Division of Global HIV Treatment, Dr. Tedd V. Ellerbrock said this in Abuja on Monday during an HIV and Treatment Branch Intervention Symposium organised by CDC Nigeria.
Dr. Ellerbrock urged the Nigerian government to scale the current performance and see to it that more HIV infected Nigerians are enrolled into the treatment program in order to effectively combat the disease spread.
“According to the national HIV/AIDS strategic framework 2017, of the estimated three million people living with HIV in Nigeria who are eligible for anti retroviral therapy, only 853,000 are on therapy.
“For all of us who have worked so hard these 14 years to scale up the ART program, to have provided the life saving therapy to only one fourth is just discouraging.
He, however, noted despite the poor result, survey show that the HIV care and treatment program might have played a key role in significantly decreasing the infection rate from 5 percent in 2003 to 3 percent in 2014.
“Going forward, we must do better. In the upcoming year, we need to increase our efforts to confront the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic by identifying more HIV/AIDS infected persons and enrolling them into the ART program”.
He further stressed the need for an accurate HIV AIDS impact survey to enable stakeholders develop plans and provide resources in a more efficient and effective way.
“I am confident we will achieve this goal in Nigeria because I believe in the capability of the Nigerian people and government to achieve their goals” he said.
In his remarks, the Director General of National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Sani Aliyu also stressed the need for a more sustainable HIV AIDS treatment program through creative funding mechanism and the private sector involvement.
“We can’t have sustainability without a more strategic funding, insurance companies involvement, and without private sector involvement” he said.
He also pointed out that the challenge of a lack of an accurate statistics affects the effectiveness of the combat against the disease in the country.
“There is no way we can have an effective HIV/AIDS program without accurate data. We have issues with data transparency” Aliyu asserted.
He agreed that the nation has a very long way to go in providing care for HIV/AIDS infected persons in the country, but reminded stakeholders of government’s pledge to integrate 50,000 infected Nigerians into the Treatment Program every year as a way of reducing the number of those not currently covered in the program.