End of HIV/AIDS in sight in Nigeria, says Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday said that the end of the spread of Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is in sight in Nigeria. H

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday said that the end of the spread of Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is in sight in Nigeria.

He made the remark during the announcement of the result of the Nigeria AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) at the old Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja.

He urged the various agencies and partners to work together collectively towards pushing out the last aspect of the disease in Nigeria.

He said “Today is a critical turning point in Nigeria for a HIV epidemic that has killed many of our countrymen and women. The end of AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 is truly in sight for our country. Let us therefore work collectively and “push for the last mile.”

Over the last two decades, he said, that the Federal Government and development partners have continued to expend significant resources in the fight against HIV with less than commensurate impact on the disease burden.

He noted that the availability of accurate and reliable HIV data for the country is crucial for planning effective health interventions to arrest the HIV epidemic and ultimately rid the country of the health threat.

He said “Recently, the national HIV programme and our development partners have faced challenges in measuring progress against targets and efficiently utilizing scarce resources due to gaps in our HIV data.

“Since my assumption of office, this Administration has paid particular and deliberate attention to careful planning as a way of implementing effective policies and achieving sustained change.

“The Nigeria AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey is therefore in line with our government’s determination of ensuring sustainable solutions to our development challenges. The survey and its results have come at the right time as we commence the full implementation of the National Health Act that will ensure that every Nigerian has access to comprehensive health services.

“The Nigeria AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey was designed to provide the data we need to plan adequately and consolidate on the progress towards the elimination of HIV in Nigeria. We are already a step ahead in this regard, as the Federal government has ensured that the HIV treatment programme in Taraba and Abia is properly funded this year and accommodation made to resource future expansions in the coming years.

“I am pleased to report that this survey has provided Government with the crucial information needed to enable the national HIV response to move forward and plan for a more sustainable and accountable programme based on credible scientific data.

 “I am aware that our development partners have committed enormous resources in supporting Nigeria to conduct this survey. I particularly wish to thank the United States Government, the Global Fund, the United Nations agencies and technical partners for their significant contributions towards this survey.

“The Federal Government was committed to the successful conduct of the Nigeria AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey. The survey was completed in record time to the agreed timetable and budget. I wish to note also the commitment of the people living with HIV, State actors and governments, traditional institutions, religious bodies, civil societies, public and private institutions, the media, and indeed all Nigerians in the support provided toward the successful outcome of this survey.

“I particularly applaud the dedication and resolve of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, (NACA) and the Federal Ministry of Health in seeing this initiative through to its logical conclusion.

“The official HIV prevalence for persons aged 15-49 years in Nigeria is now 1.4 per cent. An estimated 1.9 million Nigerians are now living with HIV with about one million persons on treatment.

“I am delighted that these more accurate figures indicate that fewer Nigerians are affected by HIV. However, we cannot celebrate yet, as almost a million Nigerians living with HIV are currently not on treatment. Now that we have data that will help us target for impact, I urge all of us not to relent in this fight, but to increase the momentum in a concerted effort to end the epidemic ahead of 2030.

“As we mark this important day in the nation’s HIV response, I will like to reiterate the commitment I made at the UN General Assembly in 2017 to progressively add 50,000 Nigerians on treatment every year using government resources.

“I also welcome the move by the Nigerian private sector to establish a National HIV Trust Fund in the coming months to support our goal of ensuring that all Nigerians have access to high quality HIV treatment and prevention services,” he said.

If Nigeria is to achieve epidemic control and end AIDS in Nigeria, he said, the nation needs a more coordinated and funded national response.

“I am directing NACA and the Federal Ministry of Health to undertake detailed consultations and consensus building with key sectoral Ministries, the legislature, governors of high prevalence states, our development partners and civil society to chart a new strategic path, building on the results of this survey. To guide this process, we are issuing today a “Revised National HIV/AIDS Strategic Framework” document,” he stated.

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