The federal government, United State government and others just in 2018 invested a total of $90 million in the fight against HIV epidemic in Nigeria.
President Muhammadu Buhari, speaking on Thursday at the “Unveiling of Nigeria HIV/AIDs Indicator and Impact Survey” in Abuja said that the money was well spent as it had led to a rapid drop in the total number of persons living with the virus.
“The result of this survey which is the largest of it’s kind in the world is a welcome development, it shows that our various contribution s were not in vain as the survey has promoted availability of accurate and reliable data that will further enhance our fight against HIV/AIDs in Nigeria”.
The President, announcing the decline in the number of persons living with HIV from 3.1 million persons to 1.9 million, stressed that his administration will ensure easy access to comprehensive health care services and promote proper handling of HIV eradication program in states adding that there is need for the private sector to partner with the government.
He said “For the first time, the end of AIDs as public health threat by 2030 is truly in sight for our country. I will urge all of us not to relent but to increase the momentum, let us work collectively and push for the last mile”.
Isaac Adewole, minister of health, said the Nigeria HIV/AIDs Indicator and Impact Survey findings is crucial to the nation’s development as it provide Nigeria with the accurate national HIV prevalence measure of 1.4percent adding that the survey is a necessary step in improving the health sector of Nigeria.
“Through this survey we have been able to get the accurate documentation of the actual number of persons living with HIV, the survey presents cases from the different regions in the country”.
“Moving forward, the result of this survey will inform more programs towards the control of HIV AIDS, Hepatitis B and C, and we are confident that with these data we will achieve a HIV free generation”, he added.
Sani Aliyu, Director General, National Agency for the control of AIDs (NACA) lauding the success of the survey process said that it was aimed at assessing the prevalence of HIV and other related health indicators adding that the data collection was done between a short time (July and December 2018) .
He further added that the survey has provided a clear sense of what is needed to ensure total elimination of HIV in Nigeria, adding that it is important that all persons living with HIV get into treatment and achieve viral suppression.
He said “To halt the epidemic, we need to act fast. As government working with our partners, we have what it takes to support persons who are HIV positive, to provide treatment, and promote long and healthy living for them”.
“The federal government initiated the first HIV/AIDs program in 2018 and have made tremendous progress. All participants found to be HIV positive have been linked to a health facility to help them access HIV services, Benue state has received the highest rate of intervention so far, and with this survey we are closer to our goal in this fight against HIV in Nigeria”.
Michel Sidibe, Executive director UNAIDS in his remark said “I com.end the Nigeria government and all it’s partners for conducting this ambitious survey which provides us with a much better understanding of the countr’s AIDs epidemic, while it is fantastic news that there are fewer people living with HIV in Nigeria than previously thought, we must not let our guard down in this fight against HIV”.
He further urged that the survey should rather help the Nigeria health stakeholders to focus on ensuring total prevention, treatment and offer care services to the people in need to that Nigeria gets on track to end the AIDs epidemic by 2030.
Cynthia Egboboh, Abuja.