Home News Blinken lauds Nigeria’s efforts in combating HIV/AIDS

Blinken lauds Nigeria’s efforts in combating HIV/AIDS

by Haruna Gimba

By Muhammad Amaan

The United State Secretary of State, Antony Blinken has commended the Federal Government and the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research for the positive transformation in research and capacity developments in combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Blinken also lauded the Federal Government for addressing the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The U.S Secretary noted that the Nigerian Government had been able to take advantage of partnership with the United States through the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief to save over 20 million lives and transform the destinies of millions more.

Speaking during a visit to NIMR’s office in Lagos on Wednesday, Blinken, noted that the work of the Nigerian institute, which also assists other African nations, showed the importance of extending PEPFAR “quickly.”

NIMR was one of the four US PEPFAR supported laboratories leveraged for the COVID-19 pandemic response between 2020 to 2021.

According to him, through PEPFAR, the US Government has invested more than 100 billion dollars in the global fight against HIV/AIDS and almost 8.3 billion dollars in Nigeria.

Blinken during the visit to NIMR, however, stressed that the PEPFAR support through the institute has been able to provide comprehensive HIV treatment to over 5,400 adults, 100 children, and also processed nearly 2,060 HIV Viral load samples in the last one year.

He added that PEPFAR helps “strengthen public health systems, so that when the next epidemic comes along — and it will — we and countries around the world are in a much better place to deal with it quickly and effectively.”

He further said, “The work that the United States and Nigeria have been doing together going back to the beginning, really, of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the extraordinary PEPFAR program that President Bush established and that has continued under successive administrations in partnership with our friends here is getting us to the point where we can eliminate HIV/AIDS as a public health threat, and it has already saved well over 20 million lives and changed the lives of millions of other people.

“But what’s even more powerful about it is that because of the work that we did and the platform that we established, when COVID hit, our friends here were able to use the PEPFAR platform to address the COVID challenge and do it successfully.

“And even more, so much of the knowledge that they’ve built up over the years allowed them to really take matters into their own hands and, for example, develop diagnostic kits right here.

“When supply chains were disrupted, when it was hard to get things moving around the world, they took matters into their own hands. And that’s because one of the very powerful things about what we do working with others is we transfer knowledge, we transfer expertise, and ultimately that leads to our friends and partners developing their own strong capacity to do things for themselves.

“There’s no better example than here at this remarkable institution that’s both treating people but also doing the research, developing new diagnostics and contributing to not only the health security for Nigeria, but I think increasingly for countries in the region and ultimately for everyone else in the world.

“So, seeing this today, it’s just a powerful example of the partnership between the United States and Nigeria on public health and the – really the transition from simply providing assistance, as important as that is, to helping our partners develop the capacity to work so effectively for themselves as well as for other people. So, I’m really grateful for the opportunity to see this first hand.”

In his remarks, the DG of NIMR, Professor Babatunde Salako, expressed gratitude to the visiting US Secretary of State and his team for supporting the Institute.

Prof. Salako, represented by the institute’s Director of Research, Prof. Oliver Ezechi, also extends gratitude to colleagues for keying into the DG’s agenda to make the Institute proud.

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