Civil Society For HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (CISHAN) on Saturday called on the Federal Government to stop the payment of user fees by people living with HIV across the country.
The CISHAN made the call during a road walk organised in collaboration with Network of
People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN) to mark the 2019 World AIDS Day with the theme: “Know Your Status” on Saturday in Lokoja.
Mr Hamza Aliyu, Kogi State Coordinator of CISHAN, said the fees were illegal as there was no policy provision for the payment of any type of fees by people living with HIV in Nigeria to access treatment.
“Since 2015 we have continued to demand for the removal of all forms of user fees by treatment facilities.
“We have consistently shown how the institution of user fees negate the rights of individuals living with HIV to access treatment and care.
“In 2017, PEPFAR had discouraged the user fees because of its impact on reducing access of people living with HIV’s access to treatment,” he said.
He said the challenges of user fees and non-budgetary allocations, if not properly addressed, would cause a serious setback for the country.
CISHAN also urged the government to sustain the HIV/AIDS programmes currently being supported by donor agencies by providing budgetary allocations and treatment support facilities.
According to Aliyu, the National Economic Council took a decision that every state should make at least 0.5 to one per cent budgetary allocation for HIV control.
However, he said only a few states have implemented the decision, and that Cross River, Kogi and Delta, in particular, had not released any resources to their SACAs, making the response almost non-functional.
“The HIV response in Nigeria needs to become less donor dependent. User fees must be eliminated. States must have budgetary allocation for HIV and AIDS control,” said Aliyu.