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Remarks by Ambassador  Leonard at the Public Launch of the USAID ACE-BAY Activity – YOLA
May 19, 2022

The Executive Governor of Adamawa State;

The Deputy Governor of Adamawa State;

The Secretary to the State Government;

The Honorable Commissioners of Health;

The Director-General, State Agencies for the Control of AIDS;

Heads of State Agencies and Institutions;

The Media;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

All protocols observed.

Good afternoon!

I am pleased to be with you today for the official launch of the Accelerating Control of the HIV Epidemic in Nigeria project – also known as ACE-BAY – in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states.

While we know that HIV is a preventable disease, and can now be well managed as a chronic disease, it remains the fifth leading cause of death for adults in Nigeria.  With an estimated prevalence rate of 1.3 percent, Nigeria has the fifth highest HIV burden in the world.

Through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief or PEPFAR, the U.S. government has invested over $6 billion over 19 years in Nigeria’s HIV response.  PEPFAR currently provides lifesaving antiretroviral treatment, including HIV and tuberculosis care services, to nearly 1.8 million Nigerians.

Approximately 80,000 people with HIV live in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, and many more are at risk of acquiring HIV if effective prevention and treatment services are not accessible.

The USAID-funded ACE-BAY project is a five-year, $53 million award to support these three states to increase access and availability of client-centered HIV and tuberculosis prevention and treatment services, while also strengthening state health systems and the capacities of local organizations.  PEPFAR believes that a key approach to the sustainability of the response is to build the capacity of government, and for local organizations such as AHNi (AH-nee) to lead.

USAID supports HIV care and treatment for over 66,000 people (of this number over 2,000 are children while over  44,000 are women) living with HIV in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states.  Together with state governments, USAID intends to improve the accessibility of life saving antiretroviral therapy for people in these three states.

HIV treatment is highly effective and enables people living with HIV to live long and productive lives.  But treatment must be for life.  People with HIV and families affected by it should be encouraged and supported.  Together, we must work to sustain these treatment gains.

While significant work remains, we are proud of those individuals whose lives we’ve meaningfully impacted.  For example, Ibrahim.

Ibrahim is someone we have been able to assist in collecting his medicines quickly every six months.  It means he does not have to constantly miss work in order to get these life saving medicines.  This client-friendly approach helped him stick to his regimen, regain his strength, and maintain a lifestyle meaningful to him.

We’ve also reached adolescents like Mary, who lost her father to HIV and had to drop out of school.  Through PEPFAR support, she received vocational training and started making and selling Ta-Li-Ya (a local food).  With her proceeds, she joined a savings group and was able to raise the fees to return to school, and even help her mother with household expenses.  These two individuals are just a couple of highlights of the changes we can make in partnership with people like you in this room. We are grateful for our strong collaboration with the Government of Nigeria, host communities, beneficiaries, and implementing partners.

The U.S. government investments in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe extend beyond HIV.  Through both USAID, whose Mission Director, Anne Patterson, has joined me here today (gesture to Anne), and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, we are working to accelerate vaccination for COVID-19.  While this is especially critical to safeguard the health of people with HIV and other immuno-compromised people, high vaccine coverage is critical to ending the pandemic threat, which has taken a toll on the nation’s economy.

Recognizing that poverty is a critical risk factor for HIV and other health threats, USAID is also investing in other sectors in these three states.  Let me share a few examples:

  • Our livelihood activity contributes to the sustainable reduction in poverty and malnutrition, and increased security through the diversification of livelihoods;
  •  Our agriculture activity advances the objectives of inclusive and sustainable agriculture-led economic growth;
  • Our water and sanitation activities bolster the capacity of  small-town public water providers to restore water services and expand water access for productive cropping and livestock farming; and
  • Our education activities equip out-of-school children and youth in these states with the foundational skills needed to progress to higher levels of education, training and engagement in the workforce.  This is being done by improving the capacity of educators and administrators.

I  commend the Government of Nigeria and the Executive Governors of Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states for their leadership and collaboration with the U.S. government. The U.S. government is proud to partner with and invest in these states to improve the lives and livelihoods of their residents.

As we launch this new activity, I know that I can count on all our valued stakeholders to build on our shared success to improve access, availability, and quality of HIV and TB prevention and treatment services for all.

Thank you to all for being here today and for your generous support!