Bid to cut N418b HIV budget unsettles Nigeria, others
No fewer than one million people will die in Nigeria and other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa if funding cuts proposed by the Donald Trump administration to global public health programmes are enacted. Also, the decision would lead to more than 300,000 children orphaned.
Researchers and advocates raise the alarm because over 90 per of nations in the region depend on funds from the Unites States’ President’s Emergency Preparedness Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for their Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) prevention and treatment programmes.
According to a new report published by The New York Times, the United States spends more than $6 billion (N2.28 trillion) yearly on antiretroviral (ARV) drugs for about 11.5 million people worldwide.
President Trump has proposed slashing the aid by at least $1.1 billion (N418 billion) — nearly a fifth of the overall funding. A vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, Jen Kates, told New York Times: “These are life-saving interventions, and these levels of reductions will significantly curtail service delivery.”
It is unclear how many could die due to the budget cuts. But the Global Fund estimates that every $100 million invested saves about 133,000 lives. Also, an estimate by amfAR, a foundation that invests in AIDS research, fell in the region, suggesting that the decision could result in more than one million deaths and over 300,000 orphaned children.
The Director General of the National Agency for Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr. Sani Aliyu, told reporters that between 2009 and 2014, the donor and international community committed 70 per cent, government, 27 per cent and the private sector, 2.1 to the tackling of the scourge.
He explained: “With the dwindling donor funding especially by our biggest contributor – PEPFAR, from $488,614,277 (76 per cent) in 2012 to $358,614,280 (70.8 per cent) in 2016 – shows that more than ever before, we have to take charge of our destiny if we must achieve the test and treat strategy of ensuring that 90 per cent of the populace know their status.
“Ninety per cent of those tested are placed on ART and 90 per cent of persons on treatment will have viral suppression to prevent zero AIDS related deaths.” But the Director of the State Department’s Office of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources, Hari Sastry, told reporters that everyone currently receiving treatment under the programmes would be allowed to continue, even if the move eventually gets approval.