Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The Federal Government, on Thursday, launched the Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS), which, they believe, would end the era of ‘guess work’ in terms of the burden of HIV disease in Nigeria.
The survey would be conducted by experts from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, in the United States of America, in at least 170, 000 households in Nigeria and would be supervised by the Federal Ministry of Health and National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA).
It would, undoubtedly, bequeath NACA and other stakeholders with good and precise knowledge of HIV/AIDS activities in Nigeria.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who launched the project in Abuja, disclosed that foreign donor partners had withdrew their financial and logistics interventions due to absence of reliable statistical document as regards the status and spread of the virus in Nigeria.
He asked states government and all other stakeholders to support the survey so that it could produce accurate or near accurate data of HIV/AIDS infection and treatment in Nigeria.
Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said the success of the project would wipe off the shame of not having precise record of people living with the virus in Nigeria.
“It will also account for resources committed thus far in the fight, and perhaps, offer improved approach to achieve better result,” he said.
Director General of NACA, Dr. Sani Aliyu, disclosed that Nigeria shoulders the world second largest HIV burden with estimated 3.2 million people living with the virus.
He said that available records indicated that about 600 Nigerians were infected with the virus daily. While about 400 death were recorded daily.
He added, “Two-third of new HIV infections in West and Central Africa occurred in Nigeria in 2016. We also contributed the largest number of HIV infected babies in the world. One in every four new babies born with HIV in the world in 2016 was a Nigerian.”
Dr. Aliyu was worried that in spite of several interventions, the number of persons on life saving medication has increased from about 100,000 to over one million, and hospitals that offer treatment have increased significantly.
He was optimistic that the survey which would take about four weeks in each state would produce clearer picture of the status and spread of HIV/AIDS, and Hepatitis B & C in Nigeria.
US Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, confirmed that that the United States Government has committed 110 million dollars to the project, which seem to be the largest HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis response survey in the world.