Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has called for stronger collaboration to eradicate the HIV pandemic in Nigeria and to erase the unenviable record of having the second largest HIV epidemic in the world.
Sanwo-Olu said this during the unveiling of the South-West Zonal Office of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS on Thursday in Lagos.
He stressed the urgent need for stakeholders to review strategies and deepen partnership in the area of advocacy and expand access to care, treatment and support for those living with the epidemic.
“Let us move forward in a bold new spirit of partnership to overcome the cycle of HIV transmission and deliver health and wellbeing for all,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu, represented by the state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, said the recently released national and sub-national incidence rate, which indicated a reduction in prevalence of the disease, was a testament to stakeholders’ efforts.
“The progress made so far in ending this epidemic would not have been possible without dynamic advocacy, solidarity and a spirit of shared responsibility, which must be maintained,” Sanwo-Olu said.
He, however, noted that a lot of work still needed to be done to ensure further significant reduction.
According to him, Nigeria still has an unenviable record of the second largest HIV epidemic in the world, and one of the highest rates of new infection in sub-Saharan Africa.
The establishment of the NACA zonal office in Lagos, he said, would, however, bring the services of NACA closer to the people, particularly stakeholders and partners.
Sanwo-Olu averred that the office would enhance NACA’s monitoring and coordinating functions in the drive to reduce the prevalence of HIV.
“The decision to locate the South-West Office of NACA in Lagos, I believe, is in recognition of the commitment and dedication of our government in eradicating the virus through the activities of the Lagos State AIDS Control Agency.
“More importantly, this decision is consistent with the recent classification of Lagos state as one of the locations of interest in the fight against the menace of HIV/AIDS,” he said.
The governor said his administration was willing and ready to further deepen partnership with NACA to achieve the collective goal of eradicating the HIV pandemic.
Such partnership, he said, would be through various actions in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and the project 90:90:90.
He noted that an HIV Consortium was recently inaugurated as a demonstration of the commitment of the state government and to bring on board all stakeholders towards achieving meaningful result.
Sanwo-Olu said the zonal office would be a rallying point for all stakeholders within the South-West zone to key into the national goal being driven by NACA.
Earlier, Dr Gambo Aliyu, Director-General of NACA, said the new zonal office would oversee the coordination of NACA’s activities in the South West Zone.
In addition, the zone, he said, would provide effective oversight of the agency’s activities in states within the zone for appropriate report to the head office in Abuja.
Aliyu said Nigeria had done remarkably well in stemming the tide of HIV in the last 15 years, resulting in the reduction of the prevalence of the disease.
He stressed that NACA’s focus was to ensure that HIV was 90 per cent under control in the country.