Nigerian government initiates policy to treat HIV patients free of charge


The federal government has introduced new set of healthcare guidelines that will make HIV/AIDS victims in the country to start receiving free treatment. Speaking in Kaduna on Tuesday, Isaac Adewole, minister of health, said the guidelines were aimed at tackling the scourge of the virus in the country.



He was speaking at the opening of a two-day north-west zonal dissemination of 2016 national guidelines for HIV prevention, treatment and care.

Represented by Segilola Araoye, one of his aides, Adewole said the free health services would cut across all levels in both public and private health institutions.

“From this day henceforth, everyone who tests positive to HIV is automatically eligible for treatment and this applies to everyone with equal emphasis, child, man and women, pregnant or not,” he said.

“From today onward we are duty bound to offer antiretroviral drugs as prevention to all persons who are at high risk of contracting HIV infection.

“From today forward all persons on treatment are entitled to at least one viral load test per year.

“From today hence, we will place greater emphasis on differentiated systems of care that are adjustable to the individual needs of the patient.”

Adewole noted that the recommendations in the 2016 guidelines by current standard were “audacious, unambiguous and unapologetically pro-patient.”

He appealed to state governments and relevant stakeholders to efficiently implement the recommendations of the guidelines to the later to help tackle the menace.

“For this to happen, we must change course a bit and find the courage to depart from the strategies that have not worked well,” he added.

“The guidelines could not have come at a less opportune moment, as they will serve as the necessary catalyst for attainment of the UNAIDS 90-90-90 initiative.

“And today, we hopefully bring to end the argument over deeply divisive option B and option B+ saga if our guidelines have been careful, to avoid the terms perhaps, it is time we stopped using them all together.”

He further said that with the 2016 guidelines, things would be better “as there are already 860,000 patients on anti-retro-viral treatment (ART) in some 1000 comprehensive HIV treatment centres.”

He said this had led to the decline morbity and mortality associated with HIV and AIDS in the country.

Adewole expressed optimism that the new guidelines would work efficiently.

“They are acceptable because they are the product of huge and representative stakeholders consensus, with over 170 people contributed to the development of this document,” he said.



Source: The Cable