By Chizoba Ogbeche
Over one million Nigerians received anti-retroviral treatment at the end of June, 2017, the government has said.
Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, made the disclosure at the opening ceremony of the 60th National Council on Health, held at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta, with the theme “Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and the Health Sector: Matters Arising.”
He did not, however, indicate if the figure included those under the care of private health facilities.
Adewole said government was also implementing other HIV prevention and control programmes, including the fast-tracking programme in six states, plus the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to reduce the scourge.
He pointed out that HIV/AIDS remained a “persistent threat to the health of Nigerians, further straining the already struggling health care system and compromising the past developmental gains.”
The minister called for a concerted and sustained effort by all to reduce the transmission of the ailment in Nigeria.
“As at the end of June, 2017, the number of individuals placed onanti-retroviral therapy in the country is 1,050,594 as against 983,980 reported at the end of last year. The government is also implementing other HIV prevention and control programmes, including the fast-track programme in six states plus the FCT to reduce the HIV epidemic in the country,” Adewole said.
The minister said efforts must be made to reverse the trend whereby over $1 billion is being spent annually on medical tourism.
He said government would collaborate with state governments in revitalising the primary health care system.
Host governor, Ibikunle Amosun, said only a healthy populate couldcontribute meaningfully to socio-economic growth of any society.
Amosun said while “the nation is striving to diversify the economy from crude oil, it should realise that only a healthy population can drive this policy.”