Collective responsibility can end HIV transmission – Wigwe

Ending HIV in Nigeria is possible when Nigerians take responsibility collectively, said Herbert Wigwe, Group Managing Director, at the launch of a 100 million dollars HIV trust fund in Abuja.

A statement from the bank said he urged the private sector to rise up to the occasion by working in collaboration with the government in the area of ownership in sustaining the HIV response.

“However, the original emergency plan to fight AIDS must transform into a Sustained response that prevents new infections and ensures those on treatment stay on treatment. “The era of sustainability demands that Africans take responsibility and ownership for the end of AIDS in Africa,” he said.

From left: Managing Director, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Dr Lars Richter; Director General National Agency for the Control AIDS, Dr Gambo Aliyu; US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Leonard; Chairman, Shell Group of Companies in Nigeria, Mr Osagie Okunbor; Chairman, Dangote Group of Companies, Alhaji Aliko Dangote; GMD/CEO Access Bank Plc, Dr Herbert Wigwe and CEO Total Energies, Mr Mike Sangster, during the launch of the HIV Trust Fund of Nigeria at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Tuesday (1/2/2022)

Wigwe, who said that Nigeria currently had the third largest HIV epidemic statistics worldwide, said over 80 per cent of the funding had been mainly from international donors. According to him, the Nigerian private sector currently contributes about 2 percent of total funds allocated to HIV. He urged the private sector to collectively join hands in the ownership of the funding to eradicate HIV in Nigeria, asserting the readiness of Access bank to support an improved health system. “Access Bank is not known for complacency. We are known for our drive for financial and economic growth, for leadership in national health issues.Read also: Private sector to raise N62 b to end mother-child HIV transmission in Nigeria– HTFN CEO

“Particularly the national response to COVID, and we are known for our commitment to sustainability, especially relating to strengthening our national health system. “With less than half of people living with HIV have access to treatment or adequate care, Access Bank partnered with other private sector organizations here from the Nigerian Business Coalition Against AIDS (NiBUCAA)

“To educate our staff, raise public awareness and support individuals living with HIV/AIDS.” Wigwe explained that the bank had also conceived of this national HIV Trustfund, as a N50 billion private sector-led mechanism to pool our resources to provide significant sustainable inputs required to scale up the impact of the AIDS response in Nigeria. He expressed the commitment of Access bank and other private sectors to ensuring that mothers were tested and drugs provided to end mother to child transmission. Aliko Dangote, Chairman of Dangote Group said that it was a collective responsibility of all to bring the number of persons living with HIV to zero. Dangote said that the money to be realised in the launch would be channelled to getting all pregnant tested and treated. He called on the private sector to work with the public sector at equal frequency to end HIV in Nigeria. Osagie Okunbor, managing director, Shell pledged commitment of Shell to the funding to ending HIV in Nigeria.

Source: Business Day, by Hope Moses-Ashike