NACA celebrates heroes of HIV response in Nigeria

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Sani Aliyu

*As PEPFAR honours Osotimehin, Idoko, Aliyu, others for significant contribution to AIDS epidemic control

The United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Nigeria Programme, on June 10, 2019 gave awards honouring 16 distinguished men and women that have made significant contributions to the Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) epidemic control in Nigeria, as part of the commemoration of it’s 15th anniversary.

The awardees, drawn from People Living with HIV, Civil Society, government, and private citizens, are all persons who have made sacrifices and committed themselves to serve those affected by HIV and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). “In the face of the epidemic, they have provided outstanding leadership, fought against the stigma and discrimination that impedes HIV service uptake, offered innovations, and made great sacrifices for the greater good”.

PEPFAR’s support to Nigeria revolutionized and accelerated the delivery of services over the past 15 years, extending a lifeline to people in need, building capacity, strengthening Nigeria’s health systems and leaving a legacy in the heart of many people. Nigeria’s HIV/AIDS response today has a renewed focus and has made significant progress, with more than 1.1 million people on treatment and a programme of sustained investment to expand the treatment programme and remove barriers to treatment and prevention for all Nigerians.

American generosity, the work of PEPFAR and its partners, and the heroism of the awardees that has saved millions of lives, averted millions of new infections, and changed the course of the AIDS epidemic in Nigeria is appreciated and commendable.

National Coordinator of the Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN), Abdulkadir Ibrahim, noted: “The generosity of PEPFAR, and the sacrifices of people working to change the course of HIV in Nigeria is an enduring legacy cherished by all.”

Director General of NACA and host to the awards, Dr. Sani Aliyu, said the there is no better way to appreciate PEPFAR’s assistance to the country in the control of HIV/AIDS and celebrate the heroes of the response than to demonstrate government commitment to putting more people on treatment, keeping them alive, healthy and productive and ultimately end AIDS in the country.

The persons honoured include: National Coordinator, Association of Women Living with HIV in Nigeria (ASHWAN)/ Regional Director ICW-WA, Mrs. Ukam Reginald Assumpta; Pioneer National Coordinator, NEPWHAN, Dr. Patrick Olabiyi Matemilola; former National Coordinator, NEPWHAN, Mr. Victor Olaore Omoshehin; Executive Director, Society of Women & Children Living with HIV Abuja, Mrs. Lucy Attah Enyia; Activist/Initiator of Sex Workers Association, Alban Anonyuo; Independent journalist and researcher, Ms. Tobore Ovuorie;
Founder, Kishimi Shelter & Care Foundation, Mrs. Samuel, Grace Ton; HIV Expert, Researcher & Director, Board of IHVN, U.S.A, Dr. William Blattner; and MWO Musa Emmanuel (retired).

Others include: Major General Ogbonnaya Simon Njoku (retired), Nigerian Armed Forces; Major General Tahir Umar (retired), Nigerian Armed Forces; Major General Life Ajemba (retired), Nigerian Armed Forces; Brigadier General Nurudeen Ayoola Hussain (retired), Nigerian Armed Forces; former Director General NACA/Minister of Health and Executive Director of UNFPA — Posthumous, Prof. Babatunde Olukayode Bamidele Osotimehin; former Director General of NACA, Prof. John Idoko; and Director General of NACA, Dr. Sani Aliyu.

In the high profile event, dubbed “A Night to Remember” and presided over by the U.S Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency Stuart Symington. Dr. Aliyu was honoured as a recipient of the PEPFAR award, having demonstrated uncommon leadership, commitment and determination to change the course of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria. Dr. Aliyu has given special attention to empowering and engaging with People Living with HIV, vulnerable women and girls, key populations, adolescent and young people and has strived to ensure that the civil society and faith-based responses are better coordinated and supported.

National Co-ordinator of the Association of Women Living with HIV in Nigeria (ASHWAN), Assumpta Reginald, said: “I celebrate Dr. Sani Aliyu for his vision and the breath of fresh air that he brought to the National HIV response. With him, we will surely get to the next the mile and end AIDS in Nigeria.”

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