Health Minister Commends APIN on Fight against HIV/AIDS

Isaac Adewole

The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, has stated that Nigeria has achieved huge success in the fight against HIV/AIDS and commended the APIN Public Health Initiatives in the role the organisation has played in achieving the said success.

The minister was speaking yesterday at the public presentation of the book, ‘Turning the Tide: AIDS in Nigeria,’ produced by APIN, which was held in Abuja.

The minister said the contribution of numerous prevention strategies and availability of drugs had led to changes in the narratives of the epidemic.

“We have achieved tremendous success in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Nigeria. The contribution of highly anti-retroviral drugs and numerous prevention strategies resulted in phenomenal changes in the narrative. Even though a definitive cure has yet to be found, people living with HIV who have access to the drugs can now live normal life,” Adewole said.

The minister added that the disease could now be managed like any other chronic disease, adding that the country has witnessed a significant reduction in the prevalence even far lower than was recorded at the beginning of various interventions.

“Four weeks ago, President Muhammadu Buhari announced the result of the largest HIV related population based survey. That result is something we are now celebrating. The prevalence rise from 1.8 per cent in 1991 to its peak of 5.8 per cent in 2001 and it began to decline. Today, 1.9 million people in Nigeria are infected,” the minister stated.

In his opening remarks, the Chief Executive Officer of APIN, Dr. Prosper Okonkwo, said the book launch was a day of gladness and joy for the organisation. He added that the book launch was a culmination of three years of serious work.

He said after the first book written 13 years ago and with noticeable improvement in the treatment of HIV/AIDS and the increasing drop in the prevalence of the disease, the organisation felt the need to write another book.

With more than a decade of massive scale up of comprehensive HIV/AIDS programme in Nigeria with domestic and international funding mainly from the US government, Global Fund, philanthropic foundations and other bilateral and multilateral donors, the national programme has enough accomplishments worth documenting in another book, Okonkwo stated.

He thanked contributors to the book, especially Prof. Phyllis Kanki, of the Havard T.H Chan School of Public Health, and Dr. Oluwole Odutolu, the Chairman of the Board of APIN, both co-editors of the book with Okonkwo himself, for the support for the organisation and making the event possible.