President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday unveiled the 2018 Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) and noted with delight that fewer Nigerians were living with the HIV virus when compared to the 2014 survey.
The president, who spoke at the unveiling of NAIIS in Abuja, however, said “we cannot celebrate yet, as almost a million Nigerians living with HIV are currently not on treatment.’’
NAIIS, inaugurated in June 2018 by Buhari, was a national household-based survey that assessed the prevalence of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and related health indicators.
Though, the President said the figures indicate that fewer Nigerians are affected by HIV; he added that this development cannot be celebrated, as almost 1million Nigerians are currently living with HIV without treatment.
However, delighted with the more accurate figures and data to work with, President Buhari called on all stakeholders not to relent in the fight against HIV, but increase the momentum in order to end the epidemic ahead of the year 2030.
He said: “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.”
He reiterated his commitment made at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 2017 to progressively add 50,000 Nigerians on treatment every year using government resources.
The President acknowledged 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.
“If we are to achieve epidemic control and end AIDS in Nigeria, we need 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,” Buhari added.
To guide this process, he said the government is issuing a “Revised National HIV/AIDS Strategic Framework” document.
He said: “Today is a critical turning point in Nigeria for an 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.”
The President pointed out that a few months ago, he launched the commencement of the important survey, which is one of the largest of its kind in the world.
He explained that over the last two decades, the Federal Government and development partners have continued to expend significant resources in the fight against HIV with less commensurate impact on the disease burden.
According to him, 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 this health threat.
He said: “Recently, the national HIV programme and our development partners have faced challenges in measuring progress against targets and efficiently utilising 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.”
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