By Talatu Maiwada
Prof. Wole Soyinka has charged the Federal Government to take seriously its obligation to eliminate HIV and AIDs in Nigeria by taking full ownership of funding and treatment rather than relying on foreign donor support.
Soyinka gave the charge in a “Keep the Promise to AIDS” Video Campaign unveiled by the AIDS Health Care Foundation (AHF) in Abuja on Monday.
The Noble Laurel said the government was not unaware of the level of affliction the spread of the virus has caused as well as the human devastation in the country.
“The government has made promises; they have the power to step down the epidemic.
“You witness campaigns by voluntary bodies urging save and responsible lifestyle among the most vulnerable youths.
“These campaigns need official backing and resources let this be a commitment and moral duty to implement plans that would wipe out AIDS within this generation.
“You have global obligations, fulfil them and keep your promises,’’ Soyinka appealed.
Dr Echey Ijezie, the Country Programme Director, AHF, underscored the need to fill the funding gap in the HIV and AIDS response in the country.
Ijezie also urged the federal and state governments as well as stakeholders to keep the promise on funding in order to ensure that the promise made to every person placed on treatment was fulfilled.
“AHF will continue to advocate by speaking about the ills, challenges and gaps in treatment, standing against discrimination and ensuring that love is shown to persons living with the virus,’’ he said.
Also speaking, Mr Dapo Olorunyomi, Publisher, Premium Times, tasked journalists to hold people in government accountable in order to help provide keen accountability for health budgetary provisions at national and state levels.
He said the media was the only constitution guaranteed by case law, treaty and constitution to hold people in government and its institutions accountable.
“Our first responsibility as journalists is regards the massive donor inflows that has supported the management of HIV and AIDS, this is to ensure proper and efficient use of the international funding pocket.
“We are to put government on the spot to ensure they make good political commitment to prudent management of the resources.
“Making sure that the public health is deemed the highest priority in appropriation and spending as well as ensuring that infrastructure are built and funds focused to the neediest areas,’’ he said.
Olorunyomi further appealed to journalists to design a national healthcare reporting objective in order to create awareness on the need to increase public sector funding for HIV services in the country.