The Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) on Wednesday said only 28 per cent of people living with HIV in West and Central Africa have access to anti-retro-viral drugs.
Dr Djibrill Diallo, the Regional Director, UNAIDS, made this known at the regional media workshop organised by the agency in Dakar, Senegal.
The theme of the workshop is: “Informing the Messengers to Change the Face of the Fight against HIV in West and Central Africa’’.
According to Diallo, of the 6.5 million people live with HIV in the region, only 28 per cent of them have access to anti-retro-viral drugs.
“Eastern and Southern Africa have a little above 54 per cent access to anti-retro-viral drugs,’’ he said.
The regional director said that UNAIDS has designed Catch-Up Plan for West and Central Africa with the aim of fast-tracking HIV/AIDS response in the region.
Diallo said that the catch-up plan was an essential step toward the realisation of 90-90-90 UNAIDS target by 2020 and ending AIDS as a public health challenge by 2030.
He said that 90-90-90 target means 90 per cent of the population would know their status, 90 per cent of people found to be living with HIV got enroll into treatment by 2020.
The regional director said the last 90 refers to the 90 per cent of the people living with HIV, who were enrolled on treatment suppressed the virus in their body by 2030.
Diallo said that the catch-up plan was an 18-month initiative aimed at enhancing HIV response in the region to the speed of those countries already on track of achieving the 90-90-90 target.
He said that the plan aims to put additional 1.2 million people living with HIV on treatment by the end of 2018.
According to him, the plan was adopted by the Head of States at the 29th African Union Summit in June 2017.
“In Nigeria, because of the emergency catch-up plan, additional 100,000 people were put on treatment in the country.
“As UNAIDS, we will work with the countries to do a strategy that will address the first wave countries in the region,’’ the regional director said.
He said that the plan would initially be implemented in eight first wave countries in West and Central Africa which were divided into three categories.
Diallo said that the four countries that bear the brunt of HIV infections are Nigeria, Cameroun, Cote d’Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The regional director said that three countries, whose health systems were wiped-off due to Ebola Virus Disease, were Liberia, Equatorial Guinea and Sierra Leone.
He said that the third category was the Central African Republic whose health systems become very fragile due to conflict.
Diallo said that domestic funding for HIV/AIDS programmes has grown in the region including efforts in Cote d’Ivoire with 400 per cent increase and pledges by Nigeria and Senegal to increase funding HIV/AIDS programmes.