United States of America on Thursday, donated $90 million towards the proposed human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), survey in Nigeria.
At the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to conduct the Nigerian HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Assessment Survey, NAIIS, in Abuja, the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole who signed on behalf of the government said the survey is expected to determine the true extent of HIV epidemic in Nigeria.
Adewole said that the Nigerian government would support the survey in every way possible.
He also said that the survey would put behind Nigeria the concept of making guess work as regard the number of person living with HIV in the country.
“Then for us as a country, we owe it as a duty of government to make sure it works, to make sure it is done properly, to really exclude politics from this work. So, it is going to be purely a scientific process and we are going to publish the data as it is. No one will influence us I can assure you. Government will not interfere. It is going to be a complete apolitical survey. It is going to help us to measure success and serve as a driver to our efforts to control HIV”. Adewole said.
The minister added that Nigeria has started a journey that will end well.
Speaking at the MOU signing, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington,urged Nigerians to help make the survey to succeed.
“This survey, this partnership, this opportunity to lift up the health of all Nigerians, and set an example from Nigeria for the whole of this continent and for the world. This is in the power of every Nigerian who participates in this”. Symington said.
He noted that in this moment all Nigerians have a chance to help make the survey to succeed.
“ Sometimes people ask Nigerians what can you do for your country? Well here is the answer, one thing that everyone can do this year wherever you are is to help make this survey succeed. From one end of the country to another because when it does, Nigeria will be able to do what Nigeria does best, not just invest in its people but watch its people invest in the world and change it. One Nigerian citizen at a time”. The US ambassador said.
On his part, the Director General of National Agency for the Control of AIDs. Sani Aliyu said that the agency is poised to make the survey work.
He said that the MoU is a major landmark for HIV response in Nigeria.
“Today is a good day for Nigeria. Today is a good day for HIV national response because we have taken a major decision to defile the true extent of HIV epidemic in the country”. Aliyu said.
He added that Nigeria has over the years been struggling to get the true extent of HIV epidemic in Nigeria.
“ We have struggled in the last few years to define the true extent of HIV epidemic. We have struggled to find patients to put on treatment and we have also struggled to present to the world the resources that have been put into the HIV response. This survey will sort all that out. It will give us excellence information. More precise estimate of the true extent of the problem and more importantly, we hope it will show that Nigeria has used the resources that had been given to it over the years for the HIV response. Dr. Aliyu noted.
The Nigerian HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Assessment Survey, NAIIS which will cover all the local government areas in Nigeria is to commence in June and pre;imary results are expected in December 2018.