The United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Nigeria Program, on June 10, 2019 gave awards honouring 16 distinguished men and women that have made significant contributions to the HIV epidemic control in Nigeria, as part of the commemoration of PEPFAR’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 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. Abdulkadir Ibrahim, National Coordinator of the Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN) 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.”
For Dr Sani Aliyu, the Director General of NACA and host to the awards, 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:
- Mrs Ukam Reginald Assumpta, National Coordinator, ASHWAN/ Regional Director ICW-WA
- Dr Patrick Olabiyi Matemilola, Pioneer National Coordinator, NEPWHAN
- Mr. Victor Olaore Omoshehin, former National Coordinator, NEPWHAN
- Mrs. Lucy Attah Enyia, Executive Director, Society of Women & Children Living with HIV Abuja
- Mr. Alban Anonyuo, Activist/Initiator of Sex Workers Association
- Ms. Tobore Ovuorie, Independent journalist and researcher
- Mrs. Samuel, Grace Ton, Founder, Kishimi Shelter & Care Foundation
- Dr William Blattner, HIV Expert, Researcher & Director, Board of IHVN, U.S.A
- MWO Musa Emmanuel (retired)
- 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
- Professor Babatunde Osotimehin, former Director General NACA/Minister of Health and Executive Director of UNFPA — Posthumous
- Prof. John Idoko, former Director General of NACA
- Dr Sani Aliyu, Director General of NACA
In the high profile event, dubbed a “A Night to Remember” and presided over by the U.S Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency Stuart Symington, Dr. Aliyu was himself 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. Assumpta Reginald, National Co-ordiator of the Association of Women Living with HIV in Nigeria (ASHWAN) 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.”