Paul Obi in Abuja
The University of Maryland, United States, US Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) have launched a data centre for monitoring and tracking of HIV/AIDS programmes and activities in Nigeria.
The data centre code named ECHO Project is geared towards tracking policies on prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS related programmes across Nigeria.
The centre will also streamline and boost the collation of specific data and other critical information on prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS and other diseases in the country.
The launch of the centre is seen as another strategic milestone, coming after the US government injected additional $95 million to combat HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.
Speaking at the launch, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, explained that the data centre will be a critical component of Nigeria’s effort in ending the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Adewole argued that Nigeria’s inability to put in place a discreet HIV/AIDS elimination plan was as a result of lack of reliable data resources.
The minister stated that “data is quite critical to whatever we are doing, without data we will not be able to really determine how much progress we have made, we will not be able to allocate resources, we will not be able to fine-tune our HIVAIDS plan.”
He added that the centre will be strategic given that it will “integrate other diseases into the project, which is excellent, in monitoring fallout, default, making it a critical component in the fight against HIV/AIDS.”
Speaking, Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr. Sani Aliyu, harped on the imperatives of the centre to NACA’s efforts in monitoring and tracking HIV/AIDS programmes on prevention and treatment.
According to Aliyu, the centre will assist NACA tremendously in providing dependable data and up to date information on progress and shortcomings relating to the virus.
Professor of Epidemiology, University of Maryland, Baltimore, US, Man Charurat explained that the centre showcases importance of data in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Charurat stated that the data centre will “help improve the quality in care of managing HIV patients in Nigeria, this two initiatives will take it to next level by making sure that we have improved care and also accountability in HIV service delivery.”
He added that the new centre “provides ability now to have every patient’s information that we could look at for number of support to our funder, that there is exact number of patients, secondly, improving on healthcare generally.”
Charurat further stressed that the aim is “to spread this project across the country, help the government to know where to focus its resources.”
Also, PEPFAR’s Dr, Andrew Forsyth, explained that “the investment in data resources like this will be critical for evaluation and for monitoring of health outcomes, at the population level and at the individual level.
“In addition, I think it is clear that this will also help us not just monitor but also track the impact of prevention and treatment services in Nigeria so that we can see how well we are doing for everybody, men, women, children, this is an example for the world to walk through, we are proud that PEPFAR is part of this and with CDC and with US partners,” Forsyth stressed.
While speaking on the importance of the centre, Dr. Sunday Aboje of the Federal Ministry of Health commended the US government and the University of Maryland for supporting Nigeria’s efforts in the fight against the virus.
Aboje assured that the data centre will be sustained as a critical infrastructure that will assist in health care service delivery, particularly, in halting the spread of HIV/AIDS.