Two civil society organisations- the Civil Society on HIV&AIDS in Nigeria and the Network of People Living with HIV&AIDS in Nigeria- on Monday in Kaduna criticised the state government for not doing enough for those living with HIV/AIDS in the state.
The groups said no fewer than 600,000 persons, representing 9.2 per cent, second to Port Harcourt, are living with the HIV virus in the state.
The organisations said the state government, in spite of the high figure, seemed not to be committed to tackling the disease, thereby abandoning patients and children orphaned by HIV and AIDS.
Addressing a press conference in the state capital to mark the 2014 World AIDS Day, the groups regretted that the coordination, care and support for persons living with HIV/AIDS in the state had been relegated to the background.
Emmanuel Bonet, who read a prepared text on behalf of the groups, said as the world tried to put its acts together in closing the gap on HIV prevention and treatment, the future remained bleak for Kaduna as things had been deteriorating.
Bonet noted that even with the presence of additional development partners bringing in resources to support government’s efforts, the apex body saddled with the responsibility for the coordination of the HIV intervention in the state had not lived up to expectation.
Bonet therefore urged the state government to increase funding of HIV&AIDS activities, beginning with the release of funds under the Presidential Comprehensive Response Plan, which he said was already contained in the 2014 budget as well as to ensure that evidence, competence and professionalism take priority over politics and religious sentiments.
He said the government should, as a matter of urgenc, “approve the last phase of the World Bank grant to enable civil society organisations implement evidence-based projects across the 23 local government areas of the state.
“Ensure that the Ministry of Women Affairs takes up its responsibility and assumes the driver’s seat on issues of orphans and other vulnerable children and women in Kaduna State.”
In his contribution, Benjamin Angboson, one of the leaders of the groups, said with the current population of 600,000 persons living with the virus, the state ought to be seen fighting against the scourge with all sincerity.
He added that current national reports ranked Kaduna second to Rivers State with 9.2 per cent HIV prevalence rate.
Angboson said, “600,000 persons living with HIV in the state is second to Rivers. Benue used to be second but the current statistics show that Kaduna State is 9.2 per cent HIV prevalence rate. The state needs to take proactive measures so that the state do not record high rate of orphans and widows.”