170,000 Nigerians to Participate in the World’s Largest HIV/AIDS Survey

  • US expends $4.7bn on Nigeria’s AIDS programme in 14 years

Senator Iroegbu in Abuja

The federal government has disclosed that approximately 170,000 Nigerians will be participating in the largest ever HIV/AIDS survey in the world under the leadership of the Ministry of Health and National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA).

This is coming as the United States government said it has spent almost $5 billion in HIV/AIDS programme and projects in Nigeria since 2004.

The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, while briefing the media in Abuja yesterday, said the conduct of the Nigeria AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) will help to improve the health indices in the country.

Adewole who was represented by his Senior Special Assistant, Community Health and Health Management, Mr. Araoye Segilola, said the data providded by the survey would help the government in channelling the resources where it will be needed most.

He said: “As long as this survey is concerned, it is the largest ever in the world. And because of our complexities as a country, size and population, this will help us to effectively deploy our resources.

“Through this survey, we will be able to reach the whole country and precisely by the end of the year the result will be out. This will definitely help us to plan better, know where to pay more attention and deploy resources appropriately.”

Earlier, the Director-General of NACA, Dr. Sani Aliyu, said the survey which is the 12th of its kind in the world to be conducted will help to establish the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the country.

Aliyu said that NAIIS, which is part of the government’s efforts to improve the health indices of the populace, will help to determine the distribution of HIV and Hepatitis B & C in the country.

He stated that the survey, which starts mid-June to December, 2018 will also help to assess the uptake of HIV services at the population level and estimate the prevalence of HIV-related risk behaviours in the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

According to him, NAISS will be implemented through close collaboration with the state ministries of Health, State AIDS Control (SACA), donor agencies and implementing partners. He said that it will also involve conducting interviews and blood tests on voluntary participants who qualify to take part, in randomely selected households across Nigeria.

“Members of the households will be requested to take part in the survey to serve as a representation of the entire population in the selected community. NAIIS will offer household-based counselling and testing, as well as Hepatitis B and C testing. Those who test positive for any of the tests will be reffered to suitable health facilities to receive appropriate services. Only individuals who voluntarily agree ro participate will be interviewed and have their blood sample tested in a confidential setting in their homes,” he explained.

The NACA further explained that the survey will provide key information that will guide the government to plan and develop more effective programs to control HIV and Hepatitis in Nigeria leading to healthier individuals and families.
Also speaking, the Country Director of Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), Mr. Mahesh Swaminathan, said US very much committed and delighted to be part of the project.

Swaminathan whose CDCP will be providing technical support to the NAIIS, disclosed that the US government has expended $4.7 billion in various AIDS programme in the last 14 years.

He said despite the fact that they have over 800,000 people under treatment with millions of other prevention, the American government is determined to do more to ensure that HIV/AIDS is contained and possibly eliminated from Nigeria.

He said: “Over $4.7 billion funding has gone into the Control of AIDS in Nigeria and we have approximately about 800, 000 people under treatment. But we think we can do more.

“The survey, which is the largest ever conducted will have approximately 170, 000 Nigerians being interviewed. We hope that with the details of the survey, Nigeria will be able to allocate more resources where it is needed.”
In the same vein, the Country Director of UNAIDS, Mr. Erasmus Morah, said that Nigeria is key to ending HIV/AIDS around the world.

According to Morah, owing to the huge population and size of Nigeria the UN cannot claim to have dealt with HIV/AIDS without doing same effectively doing same in the West African country.

The project would be done in partnership with the US government, CDC, Global funds to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, UNAIDS, and World Health Organisation (WHO) among others.