US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Terrence McCulley
By Paul Obi
Indications emerged Tuesday, that the United States government may have injected about $600 million to assist Nigeria’s healthcare services as part of the measures to stem the tide of diseases in the country.
US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Terrence McCulley, stated this in Abuja, at the inauguration of the updated HIV vaccine plan.
Speaking on the relevance of the updated vaccine plan, McCulley said the US was committed to assisting Nigeria achieve the target of disease control and prevention of various epidemics.
He said: “The US has so far provided about $600 million for the prevention of Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and Malaria, including other needs in the health system.”
McCulley, who explained that the US had committed about $18.6 billion for the provision of improved healthcare services across the world, with another $48 billion for health earmarked to run from 2008 to 2013, added: “This plan today is to help synergies the fight against Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and Malaria through science and research.”
Speaking also, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, SGF, Dr. Henry Akpan, said: “Nigeria has witnessed a decline of 25 per cent in her HIV prevalence in the last decade.”
“HIV prevalence has declined from 5. 8 per cent in 2001 to 4.1 per cent in 2010 but of the huge population, Nigeria remains the most burdened country,” he said.
In his presentation, the Director General of the National AIDS Control Agency (NACA), Prof. John Idoko, maintained that unless efforts were made to provide scientifically proven vaccine, the HIV/AIDS pandemic would continue to take its toll on Nigeria.
Idoko further stated that the policy trust of the government is to create a think-tank with the responsibility of building and enhancing HIV vaccine research capacity, formation of collaborative efforts and creating health impact for vulnerable groups.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has said it would create a new budget line that would be geared towards enhancing the discovery of HIV vaccine in Nigeria.
Hon. Haruna Kigbo, who spoke at the event, said the leadership of the House was considering meeting the US Congress on crucial issues among which healthcare is part of.