US Has Contributed $6bn Towards Tackling HIV in Nigeria, Says Ambassador

Onyebuchi Ezigbo

The United States government has contributed $6 billion to assist Nigeria in her fight against the human immunodeficiency viruse (HIV) over the past 35 years.

US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, said this at the unveiling of a publication on Nigeria’s strides in confronting HIV in Abuja, yesterday.

She said the US government through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) had improved access to HIV treatment services to every corner of this country.

“It is truly an honor to join you today to reflect upon the success of Nigeria’s HIV response over the past 35 years.  When Nigeria’s first case was reported in 1986, it marked the beginning of what appeared to be an unstoppable epidemic. 

“The launching of the New Dawn publication takes us back into history when an AIDS-Free generation seemed unimaginable.  But today, we have come to celebrate that the impossible is possible and reaching HIV epidemic control is a reality for Nigeria!

“The US government through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has improved access to HIV treatment services to every corner of this country.

 “We are most proud of how we reached this point together.  Our key partnerships with the national and state governments, UNAIDS, and the Global Fund were instrumental in determining what systems and strategy we needed to gain traction and outpace HIV.

“Since 2003, the United States has contributed over $6 billion to strengthen the systems side of the equation to train and recruit hundreds of thousands of health workers, upgrade existing laboratories infrastructures to world class status and develop the most up-to-date data management and supply chain systems to advance the government of Nigeria’s ability to deliver comprehensive HIV services,” she explained.

The envoy said the current targeted strategy was based on the Ministry of Health’s highly successful population-based survey, the Nigerian AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS). 

“The data we received allowed us to zoom in on reaching 95-95-95 goals as it informed our ART Surge strategy to target treatment for populations of unknown HIV status and enlist governors and religious and traditional leaders for state-level buy-in. 

“The result of this unprecedented achievement and journey with the Nigeria Government is what we celebrate today in this publication led by the UNAIDS country team,” she said.

The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria said the world body was inspired by Nigeria’s exemplary early-days of the response to the epidemic (1986-2004) and the 2018 Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey—the world’s largest population-based HIV survey.

He said the New Dawn was conceptualised during the leadership of former Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, and the former Director General of National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr. Sani Aliyu. 

The New Dawn publication chronicled more than 150 people who contributed, fought, or experienced the evolution of the response at one time or another.

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