NIGERIA – The World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative to Nigeria, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, has stated that HIV is one of the most successful programs in Nigeria.

Dr Oluwafunke, who heads of HIV, Tuberculosis and Viral Hepatitis Unit at WHO in Nigeria, said over 90 percent of the peo­ple living with HIV have been discovered and over 98 percent are on treatment.

“As of today, the country is already finalizing the 2022 data on HIV and I will tell you that over 90 percent of the people living with HIV have been discovered and over 98 percent are placed on treatment,” she said.

“This has been made pos­sible because the country ad­opted the WHO treat all policy, which means that everybody living with HIV is placed on treatment irrespective of their CD4 count.

“This has actually helped in their daily life adjust­ment and that is basically the quality of lives of the people living with HIV. Not only that HIV services are scaled up to many health facilities in this country both in the public and private sector.”

She added that the one thing that the government has equally done with support from WHO and transformative partnership of the UN joint team, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the global fund is basically to also work in the communities.

“We took a step away from working only in health facilities because we realize that for HIV a lot of women don’t actually utilize the health facilities to deliver. We thought about it and we felt it was actually going into the communities,” she said.

According to her, the government has engaged Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) as well as Faith homes to ensure that all of them are on board to ensure HIV treatment and that has actually helped in the success that they recorded.

Mulombo said this at a press conference in Abuja to mark the World Health Day 2023 and the commemoration and launch of WHO@75 anniver­sary with the theme: Health for All and sub theme: 75 years of improving public health.

In the same event, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said WHO has been a significant force in keeping the world safe and serving the vulnerable – so everyone everywhere can attain the highest level of health and well-being.

Dr Ehanire expressed appreciation to WHO for the numerous contributions to the health sector and the well-being of Nigerians at large.

Funding HIV response in Africa will save lives- report

Research by Economist Impact across 13 African countries has shown that fully financing the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) response will save millions of lives and produce substantial health, social and economic gains.

The new report entitled, ‘A Triple Dividend: The health, Social and Economic Gains from Financing the HIV Response in Africa’ also said it would help to end Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) as a public health threat by 2030.

Executive Director of United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Winnie Byanyima, said the report would put African countries on a path towards building more resilient healthcare systems and be better prepared for future pandemics.

Revealing that not only will there be 40 to 90 per cent fewer new HIV infections, depending on the country, the study projected that investing in HIV management would also enhance educational outcomes, especially for young women and girls, reduce gender inequality and boost economic growth.

The report reads: “If the targets for full financing of HIV response are met in South Africa, for example, women aged 15 to 19 years would account for almost 15 per cent of the reduction in new HIV infections by 2030, despite making up less than five per cent of the total population.

“In addition, increased HIV investment today will contribute to wider and sustained economic gains by 2030, and ultimately free up scarce resources, going forward, to address other critical health priorities. The report projects that South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) could be 2.8 per cent higher and Kenya could see its GDP rise by 1.1 per cent by 2030, if HIV funding targets are met.”

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