Remarks by Ambassador Leonard During the World AIDS Day Event Hosted by the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA)

The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard Giving Remarks During the World AIDS Day Event Hosted by the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) Thursday, December 3, 2020

Abuja – On behalf of the entire U.S. Mission to Nigeria, I am delighted to join you today to celebrate World AIDS Day 2020.  Every year we gather to celebrate people living with HIV/AIDS, remember those who have passed on due to the disease, and thank those who continue to work tirelessly to bring this epidemic under control.

HIV/AIDS continues to be a leading cause of death, with over 690,000 people dying from AIDS-related illnesses in 2019.  Today, over 38 million people are living with HIV worldwide.  The U.S. Government is fighting this disease through treatment and prevention initiatives and expanding access to HIV services for people worldwide.  This World AIDS Day, we reaffirm our dedication to the fight to end HIV.

The theme for this year’s World AIDS Day is ‘Resiliency in HIV programming in the Context of COVID-19.’  Despite the threat of COVID-19, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief – PEPFAR –  helped diagnose and provide treatment to 6,000 HIV-infected Nigerians a week in 2020, while maintaining the integrity and quality of services, and keeping the health care providers workers safe.  Now, PEPFAR is supporting lifesaving treatment to over a million patients  and is partnering with the Government and people of Nigeria to achieve epidemic control.

Since 2003, the U.S. government, through PEPFAR, has invested more than $85 billion in the global HIV/AIDS response and saved more than 17 million lives, working in 54 countries.  PEPFAR has invested more than $6 billion in the national HIV/AIDS response in Nigeria alone.  In Nigeria in 2020:  More than 8.2 million people have received HIV counseling and testing services; similarly, more than 1.2 million pregnant women received HIV testing and counseling toward prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

Approximately 1.2 million people living with HIV received support to improve quality of life, including TB/HIV care services, and about 1.3 million orphans and vulnerable children received care and support services.

Equally important, PEPFAR supports Nigeria in the critical areas of policy development, human capacity development, and overarching health systems strengthening, including the provision of state-of-the-art laboratories and pharmaceutical warehouses.  All this enhances Nigeria’s health systems to tackle not only HIV/AIDS but other diseases as well.

While acknowledging the human suffering and socio-economic impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, we continue to recognize significant progress towards mitigating the effect and ensuring that those living with HIV can live a long, normal, and productive life.  One such improvement is the ability to have a secure national data system that caters to patients’ and healthcare providers’ needs.

Since 2014, the U.S. Government through PEPFAR has been providing support to the Federal Ministry of Health to develop the National Data Repository that provides a secure national data system to receive and store patient-level electronic medical records data from all facilities treating PLHIV, allowing more accurate patient-level data nationally toward improved program and patient outcomes.

The National Data Repository collects data from different Electronic Medical Records existing in the country using a standard algorithm and implementation guide. The NDR currently hosts over 1,000,000 active patient records uniquely identified and removes duplicate data from 1,998 health facilities providing HIV care and treatment services across all 36 states and Federal Capital Territory.  Therefore, the NDR offers ample opportunity to harness a large pool of nationally representative data to inform intelligence gathering towards achieving HIV epidemic control.

I would like to recognize the role of PEPFAR and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  I would also like to recognize CDC’s implementing partner, the University of Maryland, Baltimore, for its tremendous efforts working with the Government and other partners to implement the NDR project.

Let me assure you that the U.S. government stands ready to continue our partnership with the Government of Nigeria and other international and domestic partners to support Nigeria as it builds upon its successes in fighting HIV/AIDS.

I congratulate the Government of Nigeria for its commitment and efforts toward reaching HIV/AIDS epidemic control.  I also recognize the tremendous support to our partners as they continue to implement the Nigeria HIV/AIDS Surge initiative and look forward to our continued collaboration to improve the Nigerian people’s health and well-being.

Thank you.