The federal government of Nigeria can save a total of 3.1 million Nigerians living with HIV/AIDS through provision of antiretroviral drugs by procuring directly from the manufacturers outside the country or locally producing the drugs.
This assertion was made by the Executive Director of civil society legislative advocacy centre (CISLAC), Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani).
He told our Correspondent that the Nigerian government struggles to sustain the provision of free antiretroviral drugs as part of HIV programmes at health facilities in the country for an estimated 3.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS.
This effort, he insisted, is mostly sabotaged by inflated prices quoted by supplying contractors, whose activities render government’s effort inadequate to eliminate the high and sometimes inequitable economic burden of HIV/AIDS on households.
“CISLAC/Transparency international Nigeria gathered that the contractors currently sell the anti-retroviral drugs at $13 per patient as against $7 given by the manufacturers.
“This exorbitant prices quoted by existing contractors renders government financially incapacitated to adequately provide for, and make anti-retroviral drugs accessible across health care facilities, which records resultant regular stock-out, health hazards and relapse of illnesses.
“We observed the strong resistance by some contractors with support of some insiders to prevent the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) from buying HIV drugs directly from original manufacturers which allows the Government to put more people on treatment.”
The groups noted that over-reliance on donor funds in the fight against HIV in the country constitutes a dangerous trend to sustainability, hence the need for the government to take full ownership in the prevention and treatment of HIV in the country.
“As part of the sustainability plan, CISLAC/TI Nigeria calls on regulatory authorities, like NAFDAC, to support and enhance local production of affordable antiretroviral drugs with serious consideration while issuing marketing authorization to local manufacturers.”
“CISLAC/TI also called on the Director-General of NACA to devise an appropriate sustainability plan for the procurement of drugs and consumables through cost-effective and encouraged technical know-how for domestic production in the presence of dwindling donors’ support.
Need to Strengthen the System
In his contribution, the CEO of the institute of human virology, Nigeria, Dr Patrick Dakum insisted Nigeria needs to strengthen its system in essential medicines.
“Nigeria is highly dependent on other countries for its medicine needs. About 70 percent of medicines used in Nigeria and most other African countries are imported especially from China and India. Only 10 percent of the drugs that we use in Nigeria are manufactured here. During this pandemic, the shutdown of factories affected local drug manufacturing and the need for drugs became an issue,” he said.