The Nigerian Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, has revealed that $3.2 million (N1.08 billion naira) worth of HIV drugs expired in storage. This could mean that Nigeria’s stock of HIV drugs is low.

According to Adewole, who made this disclosure while delivering a speech at the ‘Dissemination Meeting of 2016 National Health Facility Survey’ in Abuja, incompetence and poor knowledge of healthcare workers are to blame for depriving the over 3.5 million people who need the drugs to survive. Such an excuse for the waste in addition to the massive cost involved in the HIV prevention campaign is outrageous.

“We are living witnesses to the challenges we face with the HIV programme where drugs worth about $3.2m expired. So, it is not a question of it (drugs) not being available. Sometimes the drugs are there but we don’t give it to them (patients) and then they expire.”

This subject broaches the question of whether this is the first time that such a waste of resources is being experienced in Nigeria’s health care sector. The answer is probably no.

Who are the incompetent and poorly trained workers that failed to distribute these drugs to those it’s meant for, and at the right time? What will happen to them? Is this not a major part of the corruption Nigerians are pushing agaimst?

The minister’s assurance that certain mechanisms have been put in place to forestall a re-occurrence is in doubt.

According to Ibrahim Umoru, a member, Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM), “Our treatment sites now are becoming glorified prescription and dispensing centres where critical and core clinical care is fast disappearing. The quality of care to People living with HIV/AIDS in most treatment centres is at its lowest ebb and worst of it is that clients are now made to pay for services.”

National Agency for the Control of Aids, NACA, whose mission is to “provide an enabling policy environment and stable ongoing facilitation of proactive multi-sectoral planning, coordinated implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all HIV/AIDS prevention and impact mitigation activities in Nigeria” has not done its job.

It has a responsibility to monitor the storage and supply of HIV drugs which will, in turn, reduce prevalence. If more storage and distribution centres are needed, this ought to have been properly handled.

It is unfortunate that this is also coming at a time when international donors to health care in Africa, like America are reducing aid to Africa. Sadly, the health care system in Nigeria has not improved enough to bridge the gap that will be left by the cut. Federal and state governments are still not doing enough to fund the health sector and can barely contain emergencies. Therefore, Nigeria cannot afford to be careless with donations from donor agencies. Such carelessness is a sign that Nigeria does not attach value to the lives of its citizens.

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