No Nigerian should die of HIV/AIDS, Jonathan directs

President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday gave a marching order to the Minister of Health and all relevant government agencies to ensure that all Nigerians who require attention on HIV/AIDS get all they needed to live normally.
Jonathan said the 80 per cent target set by the National Agency for Control of HIV/AIDS was not acceptable to him, insisting that no Nigerian should henceforth die of the dreaded disease as a result of lack of access to drugs and testing kits during his tenure.
The President was speaking at a forum on “President’s Emergency Response Plan For HIV/AIDS in Nigeria” held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa.
He said: “As a President, I don’t want any Nigerian to die from HIV/AIDS and the governors should tell their citizens they don’t want them to die of HIV/AIDS.
“Donor agencies will only assist us, it can never be their responsibility.
“Why should we target 80%? What about the remaining 20%? They should die? Our target should be 100%. We have to look for creative ways to fund it.
“We must make sure that 100% of Nigerians that require attention get the attention. The statistics should improve annually.”
President Jonathan also stressed the need to step up advocacy as canvassed by the Lagos State Deputy Governor.
The President urged all state governors to make use of the social media and religious leaders as they address the menace in their respective states.
“Advocacy is very critical because the people must be aware,” he said.
Some governors who spoke commended the President for conveying the meeting, attesting to the fact that it was the first time pro-active steps that involved the states were being taken to address the HIV/AIDS.
Governor David Jang of Plateau State, whom President Jonathan referred to as “speaking for all the governors”, said the issue of same-sex marriage should be checked as it is fast spreading the disease.
Jang alleged that even though outlawed in the country, many people were engaging in it secretly and needed to be checked.
Governor Jang also noted that the prevalence of the dreaded disease in Plateau State was as a result of crisis in the state.
He alleged that “people are importing HIV/Aids into Plateau from other states”.
Other governors who spoke, including Godswil Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State, Idris Wada of Kogi State, Abdulaziz Kyari of Zamfara State, Liyel Imoke of Cross River State and Peter Obi of Anambra State all commended the presidential initiative.
The NACA Director General, Prof. John Idoko, had in his presentation said the national HIV response is currently underfunded and only dependent on international funding.
Idoko said the Agency aimed at reducing infection by 80%, making the same percent have access to drugs and invariably reducing deaths by same.
For the country to meet its 50% funding target in this emergency situation, the three tiers of government must in the next two years invest directly a whopping N179 billion ($1.2 billion).
The breakdown shows the Federal Government providing N110.2 billion, States N52.2 billion and local governments N16.4 billion.
The interactive forum was attended by Vice President Namadi Sambo, the governors, deputy governors, representatives of donor agencies, technical personnel in charge of HIV/AIDS at the various states, relevant ministers and presidential aides.