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The United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has expressed satisfaction about Nigeria’s progress on health, particularly the HIV and AIDS prevention programme, even as he praised the strides made by the Nigerian government in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and the response to other infectious diseases.
Blinken, who paid a scheduled visit to the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, NIMR, Nigeria’s premier institute for basic, applied medical, operational, and public health research, on Wednesday during his working tour of US facilities in the state, expressed his pleasure at the success of the work at the facility.
He described what he saw at the NIMR as a powerful example of the partnership between the United States and Nigeria on public health, noting that it was a reflection of the transition from simply assisting to helping Nigerians develop the capacity to work so effectively themselves as well as for other people.
Blinken’s visit to the NIMR symbolised the US commitment to supporting Nigeria’s healthcare system. The US is a major donor to Nigeria’s health sector, and it has invested almost $8.3 billion in HIV and AIDS in Nigeria, with over 1.6 million Nigerians accessing antiretroviral drug treatment.
The US Secretary of State said: “The work that the United States and Nigeria have been doing together going back to the beginning, really, of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the extraordinary PEPFAR programme that President Bush established and that has continued under successive administrations in partnership with our friends here is getting us to the point where we can eliminate HIV and AIDS as a public health threat, and it has already saved well over 20 million lives and changed the lives of millions of other people.
“But what’s even more powerful about it is that because of our work and the platform that we established, when COVID hit, our friends here were able to use the PEPFAR platform to address the COVID challenge and do it so successfully. And even more, so much of the knowledge that they’ve built up over the years has allowed them to really take matters into their own hands and, for example, develop diagnostic kits right here.
“When supply chains were disrupted and it was hard to get things moving around the world, they took matters into their own hands. And that’s because one of the compelling things about working with others is that we transfer knowledge and expertise, and ultimately, that leads to our friends and partners developing their strong capacity to do things for themselves.
“And there’s no better example than here at this remarkable institution that’s both treating people but also doing the research, developing new diagnostics, and contributing to not only the health security for Nigeria, but I think increasingly for countries in the region and ultimately for everyone else in the world.
“One final thing: it only underscores the importance of continuing to extend the PEPFAR programme and getting that done quickly. It is a matter of saving more lives, changing more lives, and dealing once and for all with HIV and AIDS, but also continuing to strengthen public health systems so that when the next epidemic comes along—and it will—we and countries around the world are in a much better place to deal with it quickly and effectively.
“The stakes are real. They couldn’t be higher, but you can see the results—the positive results—when we work with this kind of collaboration.”Follow us on social media