The Guardian (Nigeria) (10.18.12)
The National Agency for the Control of AIDS and partners have convened a validation meeting to work on an operational plan that would facilitate the implementation of the recently launched National HIV Vaccine Plan. They are determined to bridge the funding gaps in HIV/ AIDS control in Nigeria and lack of a subtype-specific vaccine plan. The validation meeting was to forge a way forward to ensure the source of funding for HIV response comes from the Nigerian government at all levels, private sector, and other possible sources. The Director General of NACA, Professor John Idoko, stated the meeting was a follow-up to previous meetings held and that NACA has contracted some consultants to map the point of resources and recommend possible ways the country can begin to fund its own HIV response.
Idoko said that about three million Nigerians are currently living with HIV/AIDS; out of this number, 1.5 million require antiretroviral treatment, but only about 500,000 of this number are currently receiving ARV, with the bulk of this treatment coming from donor agencies. Various speakers corroborated Idoko’s remarks, supporting the need for in-country funding. Regarding the new vaccine plan, Idoko stated that the plan would build and enhance HIV vaccine research capacity in Nigeria, identify opportunities for and enable the formation of collaborative relationships both within Nigeria and among international partners, and create immeasurable public health impact and benefit for Nigeria’s most vulnerable populations.
Stakeholders say the vaccine plan offers an unprecedented opportunity to achieve impact by putting the National HIV Vaccine Plan into action. It presents 12 achievable recommendations to strengthen technical and scientific infrastructure and enhance the capacity to regulate and execute vaccine trials over the next five years. The consultants presented their findings, including alternative sources of funding identified in conjunction with stakeholders, that included public-sector mainstreaming; decentralization of contributions from state and local government budgets; private-sector contributions; an airline levy; mobile phone levy; health insurance; and improving efficiencies in HIV/AIDS programs to reduce resource needs. The impact of these changes in funding sources for HIV and AIDS service delivery infrastructure was also presented, including coordination and resource allocation, health financing, human resources for health, HIV and AIDS drugs, community-based organizations, and an HIV/AIDS Trust Fund.