By Ikenna Osuoha
Abuja, Oct. 9, 2020 The Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN) has condemned the politicisation of care and wellbeing of people with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC).
Mr Abdulkadir Ibrahim, National Coordinator of the network, made the condemnation on Friday in Abuja in reaction to the allegation by CISLAC that anti-retroviral drugs were procured through third party.
Naija247news reports that the CISLAC had given unsubstantiated allegations about the procurement of anti-retroviral drugs through third party amounting to N8.5 billion for the management of HIV infection.
Ibrahim derided a claim by CISLAC that contractors were frustrating the efforts of National Agency for the Control of AIDS to purchase anti-retroviral drugs directly from manufacturers.
He described as false and baseless the allegations raised by CISLAC, saying this was capable of undermining the health concerns and medications for people living with HIV in Nigeria.
“This correspondence is to correct the misinformation about NEPWHAN projected by CISLAC.
“Their poor understanding of HIV management and control system reflects in their poor representation of data about the burden of HIV in Nigeria.
“They wrongly wrote that an estimated 3.1 million persons are living with HIV in Nigeria.
“We can infer by their failure to access publicly available information as evidence of their inability to source for accurate information for their miscommunication,” Ibrahim said in a statement he signed.
Ibrahim explained that the network was only interested in the timely delivery of drugs to its members, reaffirming his resolve to continue to hold government accountable.
The NEPWHAN coordinator, who noted the imperatives of mitigating corruption in drug procurement and delivery, said that they would not relent in fighting for the improved wellbeing of their members.
“NEPWHAN is not interested in politics of the system.
“We will, however, as civil society watchdogs continue to hold the government of Nigeria and other stakeholders accountable to their mandate on health, wellbeing and welfare of people living with HIV in Nigeria irrespective of race, gender, colour or ethnicity.
“The claim by CISLAC sadly opens up a can of worms that raise issues of illegality about direct procurement raised by the Director General of NACA.
“First, CISLAC noted that the cost of the drug is 7 dollars (exclusive of all importation and distribution logistic costs), while local contractors sell at 13 dollars (inclusive of all importation and distribution employment opportunities to Nigeria related costs),” he said.
Ibrahim said that the cost of saving life has failed with the non-adherence to the due process of procurement.
“They are therefore guilty of breaching procurement protocols by making payments of about N1 billion without a no objection approval by the Bureau of Public Procurement and the Federal Executive Council.
“The non-adherence to procurement due process is a concern to NEPWHAN as a member of NACA Board just like it is to other Civil Society members of the board,” he said.
He added that the poor quality of healthcare for some his members in Abia and Taraba, which according to him, are the only two states that the country manages its HIV programme.
“The Global Fund will focus on commodity procurement and supplies, including treatment in Ebonyi and Anambra, while President’s Emergency Programme for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) handles HIV treatment in 33 states.
“NEPWHAN recognises that this poor quality of care results in part for the failure of the programme to be handled by the National AIDS and STIs Control Programme (NASCP) under the federal ministry of Health responsible for hospital management.
“NACA manages the non-health related HIV response. Their continued management of drug procurement and treatment in a domain they have no operational jurisdiction undermines their efficiency and effectiveness.”
Ibrahim, who reiterated the need for efficiency in procurement and delivery of drugs, said that their position would not be misinterpreted as blackmail.