Lack of adequate data is affecting Nigeria’s ability to compete for international HIV grant, President Muhammadu Buhari has said.
Mr Buhari said this on Thursday at the launch of Nigeria’s HIV/AIDS Indicator & Impact Survey (NAIIS) at the Banquet Hall of the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The survey is set to be the largest on HIV in the world and Nigeria is the 12th country conducting it.
It aims to reach a sample size of about 170,000 people across the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and will be conducted for about six months.
Mr Buhari said the federal government and donor partners have put so much resources in the fight against HIV since 2001, with over 3.2million Nigerians estimated to be living with the virus.
He lamented that the resources were not being well managed, as there are wastage of HIV commodities.
Mr Buhari, however, said the survey will correct the lapses and provide sustainable solution to Nigeria’s health and other developmental problems.
He said the survey came at the right time as it will provide the answers needed to better fight HIV in Nigeria.
He urged state governments and the general public to support the parties involved during the survey.
The Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Sani Aliyu, said HIV is not a health problem but a national problem.
He said the disease is a problem to the nation because it affects development.
He noted that sorting out HIV epidemic in Nigeria will help the population to be healthier and also enhance the economy of the country.
Mr Aliyu said the survey will give a precise evidence of people living with HIV and also help to track the coverage and impact of current HIV services.
He lamented the state of the fight against HIV in the country.
“Almost two-thirds of all new HIV infections in West and Central Africa occurred in Nigeria in 2016. We also contribute the largest number of HIV-infected babies in the world, as one in every four babies born with HIV in the world in 2016 was a Nigerian born.
“The number of persons on life saving medications has increased from about 100,000 to just over a million and the number of hospitals providing HIV/AIDS treatment sites have increased more than 10-fold, yet the epidemic burden has remained the same,” he said.
In his remarks, the Country Director of UNAIDS, Erasmus Morah, said about one million Nigerians are on treatment for HIV and only about five per cent is being paid for by the government.
He urged the federal government to increase the funds allocated to HIV treatment this financial year from N 1.5 billion to the required N7.5 billion.
He said adding the N6 billion would give a glimmer of hope to the development partners, the Americans in particular, that they would not have to forever be the primary financiers for treating Nigerians who are living with HIV.
The U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, said the survey is the biggest in Nigeria, adding that Nigeria will never be the same again in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The minister of state for health, Osagie Ehanire, said the HIV survey is a string to developing the health sector.
He said the survey will refine the actual state of HIV/AIDS in the country.