Abuja - President Goodluck Jonathan Thursday in Abuja directed the National Agency for the Control of HIV and AIDS (NACA) to come up with the 2013 national work plan for the eradication of the scourge.
Jonathan gave the directive at an emergency stakeholders’ meeting he held with the governors in states worst hit by HIV and AIDS.
Speaking with State House correspondents after the closed-door meeting, Benue Governor Gabriel Suswam said the work plan as directed by the President would assist in curbing the spread of the scourge.
Suswam said the meeting was summoned by the President following the high prevalence of the scourge in Nigeria and the current Nigeria’s rating as the second highest in Africa.
He noted that one of the main agenda in the just concluded AU Summit he attended with the President was how to address the social, economic and security implications of HIV and AIDS in Africa.
``The seriousness in which the President attached to it is why he invited some of the states.
``Of course, it is not a hidden fact that Akwa Ibom, Benue, Anambra, Plateau and few other states have the highest prevalence rate of HIV and AIDS.
‘’NACA has been directed to come out with work plan for 2013 in order to reduce the prevalence rate of the scourge in the country.
‘’The states also are encouraged to go back and engage in those acts that will be able to address the issues.’’
Suswam identified some of the challenges to include funding sexual behavior and cultural dimension to the scourge.
He stressed the need to engage in serious advocacy in the country particularly in the worst hit states.
He said the Federal Government had promised to intervene in the area of funding, adding states had been encouraged to devote some percentage of their budget to fund HIV and AIDS activities.
`` This is an issue Nigerians should take very serious because Nigeria is rated very high.
``In fact, in the entire of Africa just after South Africa, this is very dangerous.
``What it does is that it gradually depletes the working force of the country and it also affects the security and economic aspects.’’
The governor, however, said that his administration had been able to reduce the prevalence of the scourge to 8 per cent from 12 per cent.
He said he would use the parts of the SURE-P funds to effectively address the scourge.