PEPFAR Honours NACA DG, Other Heroes of HIV Response in Nigeria

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Martins Ifijeh

The United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Nigeria Program, has honoured the Director General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr. Sani Aliyu and 15 other heroes of HIV response in Nigeria.

The award ceremony held in Abuja recently to honour the 16 distinguished men and women that have made significant contributions to the HIV epidemic control in Nigeria, was part of the commemoration of PEPFAR’s 15th anniversary.

The awardees, drawn from People Living with HIV (PLWH), civil society, government, and private citizens, are all persons who have made sacrifices and committed themselves to serve those affected by HIV and AIDS.

Sharing her thoughts, the Director of Media, NACA, Mrs. Toyin Aderibigbe said “In the face of the epidemic, they have provided outstanding leadership, fought against the stigma and discrimination that impedes HIV service uptake, offered innovations, has made great sacrifices for the greater good.

“Dr. Aliyu has given special attention to empowering and engaging with PLWH, 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.

“PEPFAR’s support to Nigeria revolutionised 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.
“Abdulkadir Ibrahim, National Coordinator of the Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN) is 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,” she said.

For Aliyu, 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 Co-ordinator, Association of Women Living with HIV in Nigeria (ASHWAN), Assumpta Reginald, National, said: “I celebrate Dr 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.”

Other beneficiaries of the award are National Coordinator, 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, Mr. Alban Anonyuo; Independent journalist and researcher, Ms. Tobore Ovuorie; Founder, Kishimi Shelter & Care Foundation, Mrs. Samuel, Grace Ton; and HIV Expert, Researcher & Director, Board of IHVN, U.S.A, Dr William Blattner.

Others are MWO Musa Emmanuel (retired), Major General Ogbonnaya Simon Njoku (retired), Major General Tahir Umar (retired), Major General Life Ajemba (retired), Brigadier General Nurudeen Ayoola Hussain (retired), Professor Babatunde Osotimehin, former Director General NACA/Minister of Health and Executive Director of UNFPA — Posthumous, and former Director General of NACA, Prof. John Idoko.

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