By Blessing Mase
According to a “U.S –Supported Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey,” about 1.9 million people are still living with the virus and 80% of them are living below poverty line. As a result of this, they find it difficult to access HIV treatment due to the fact that they are being asked to pay what is called the ‘User Fee.‘
Now, what is user fee charge? User fee charge is seen as money paid to access services in health care center.
Facts about User Fee Charge
Research has been carried out concerning user fee charge which has been a burden to PLWHIV (persons living with HIV and AIDS) and it was discovered that a lot of people pay user fee in other to access the ARV drugs which has and is causing a lot of pain to them as a result of the state of poverty they are in.
Over the years, donors like PERFAR (Presidency Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) have been the ones sponsoring these ARV drugs but since there was lack of fund to continue with the funding, PLWHIV are been asked to pay this fee. The fee includes opening of files which cost N200, consultation to see a doctor in which series of test is administered to them like viral load test, CD4 test, Eye test, Liver test. As a result of the multiple test that has to be carried out in other for them to access these drugs, it becomes so difficult for them to pay for the test which will go for as far as N4,000-N5,000, considering the fact that most of these PLWHIA cannot afford three square meal or even a meal or two a day. According to Claire Pierangelo, a US Diplomat, such fee constitutes a major barrier to people living with HIV/AIDS.
Another test that got my attention was the “Genotypic Resistant Test.” This test is an antiretroviral resistance test that is used to help select drugs regime that will likely be effective in treating a person with HIV infection The test go as far as N35,000 while other hospitals collect N60,000-N65,000. As a result of these huge amounts placed on this test, it was reported that three persons who could not pay for the test in other to access the drugs died at Nyanya General Hospital.
It has gotten to a point where some doctors now write proposals without the knowledge of the management in other to source for fund to help pay for these test in other not to stain their reputation. It is a way to help save lives of these persons living with the virus. Some of them are orphans, unemployed youths and parents who can’t afford the money.
The government needs to ensure that the user fee imposed of PLWHIA is removed. The Government should ensure that the 1% budget that is allocated to health sector for ARV drugs is implemented.
The United States Consular General, Claire Pierangelo has advised that an increase in the funding of antiretroviral drugs would enable these people to leave healthy, productive lives until the day a cure is found.
Lawyers Alert hereby puts our readers on notice that this article is based on the writers opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of the organization.