The United States Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, Dr. John Nkengasong says in partnership with Nigeria, the Abuja Declaration will be achieved by 2030.
Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy leads the implementation of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, is the U.S. government’s initiative to help save the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS across the world.
In April 2001, when African Union member states met in Abuja, they agreed and committed to allocating 15 per cent of their governments’ health budgets to address pressing health challenges, including HIV/AIDS and malaria.
This has since become a rallying point to mobilise resources from the government to fund the health sector. However, over the years, Nigeria has never measured up as it continues to allocate just 10% of its annual health budget to health.
Nkengasong, while speaking at the ongoing Foreign Press Centre (FPC) reporting tour for select African journalists in Washington D.C., yesterday, said PEPFAR in the last two decades, has been working to ensure that the goal is met.
He said they intend to ensure that at least 95 per cent of infected persons know their status, get the right treatment and ensure viral load suppression.
To achieve this lofty goal, he said, political, financial sustainability and collaboration with concerned agencies are required.
Nkengasong said the programme had supported thousands of laboratories, facilities and healthcare workers in Nigeria and across Africa, adding that other infectious diseases like Ebola and COVID-19 had also been added to the programme and received support in terms of funding and knowledge exchange.
Former director of the Office of National AIDS Policy and Presidential Envoy on AIDS at the White House, Sandra Thurman, noted that stigmatisation has been the greatest barrier to getting help for people living with HIV/AIDs.
She said aside from the media, arts, journalism and good communication help to remove stigma and spur acceptance.
According to her, there were non-violent protests against the government in the past because the masses believed the authorities were not doing enough to find a cure for the disease, adding that the disease has a destabilising political and security impact on countries, affects life expectancy, population growth and family structure.
Thurman said PEPFAR was introduced by former President George Bush in 2003, as a game-changer for public health and infectious disease and expressed concern that enacting harsh and punitive laws against sexual orientation further entrench discrimination and stigmatisation.
“Good policies and public health practices plus implementation save lives. Through PEPFAR 25 million people were saved, while almost six million babies were born free of HIV/AIDs.
“Sustained engagement and true partnership matter. HIV/AIDS is still a serious public health threat. It is affecting Nigeria and Africa’s young demographic and, believe it or not, it is a security threat for them, if we do not take decisive action now.”