By Muhammad Amaan
The United Nations has extolled Nigeria’s progress in the tackling of HIV situation.
UNAIDS Country Director and Representative, Dr Leo Zekeng, made the commendation in Abuja, at the one-day stakeholders’ meeting on the proposed assessment of HIV situation in the humanitarian and conflict settings in Nigeria.
The event centred on assessing HIV service provision in conflict settings through collaboration with the Institute of Public Health, of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Nigeria.
Also, to promote knowledge-sharing and generate evidence to advance HIV related interventions, as well as ending inequalities and leaving no one behind in the humanitarian and conflict settings in Nigeria.
Zekeng said, “Through the support of the international community and under the leadership of the government, Nigeria has made tremendous progress in addressing HIV in the country.
“We have about 1.6 million people on treatment out of the 1.9 who are living with HIV and AIDS: we also have registered, reduced new infections.
“Policies, strategies are in place. Institutions are in place, but we are also aware of the situation of the humanitarian conflict prevailing, unfortunately, in some states in the northeast and northwest of the country.
“We are also aware of about 80,000 refugees coming from neighbouring Cameroon. So, the global AIDS strategy is all about leaving no one behind and ensuring everybody can have access to comprehensive HIV services.
“We thought it fit as UN, in close collaboration with UNAIDS, UNHCR, IOM, UNFPA, WHO, UNICEF and UN Women under government leadership, to find out impact on conflict and humanitarian situation on HIV vulnerability and risk.”
This, according to the country-director will ascertain which services are available in those areas, who are the implementers, what are the scales and the scope of those services, as well as quality of those services.
He said such will help generate evidence that can advance policies for planning and programming, adding that ii will boost resource mobilisation and relevant awareness on ending AIDS by 2030 and leave no one behind.
“It shows the interest, not only on an epidemic which continues to be public health threat, but also the willingness of different stakeholders under the convening role of the UN to undertake such important initiative.
“The data collection should be starting soon. It will be in two weeks’ time and it is our hope that before June, latest finding will be available.
“So, the purpose of this deep dive looking at the HIV situation in the humanitarian and conflict situation in Nigeria, you are raising the number of states.
“Although we wish to have resources to go everywhere, because of financial constraints we are limiting ourselves to only five states.
“We are happy to see support of the government through NACA, civil society organisations, implementing partners, people in HIV and AIDS, key population, to ensure as we end AIDS, nobody is left behind”.
“We already engaged rural communities. We have 1.6 million people on treatment, we still have gap of about 300,000 people to fund. Some of them are in urban communities, some in rural areas,” he added.