UN envoy hails anti-AIDS efforts

Lagos- Nigeria (PANA) -- The UN Secretary-General's special envoy on HIV/AIDS has hailed Nigeria's efforts at combating the disease, saying such efforts had not been matched by any other African country.
"I got a measure of optimism that this is a country with determination to curb this pandemic," Stephen Lewis told journalists in Lagos at the weekend after a six-day visit to the country.
Lewis has met with various stakeholders, including the government, the UN family, NGOs and the organisation, People Living With HIV/AIDS or PLWAs.
"There is absolutely an obsessive determination to curb it (HIV/AIDS)," he said of his impression from meetings with the officials, including President Olusegun Obasanjo and Health Minister Alphonsus Nwosu.
Lewis praised Obasanjo for his personal commitment to the fight against the disease, which currently afflicts an estimated 2.
6 million people in the country with a population of 110 million people.
"Nobody in Africa talks more strongly about it than your President," he said.
Since coming into power, Obasanjo has raised the government's allocation from a mere 600,000 naira in 1996 and 1997 in the federal budgets to more than 4 billion naira (about 363.
6 million US dollars) in 2001.
The President also established the National Action Committee against AIDS (NACA), directly under his office, to co-ordinate activities aimed at curtailing the spread of the disease Lewis assured that he would "tell the whole world about what I have seen in Nigeria and I will carry the message to the (UN) Secretary-General".
He also commented on the government's plan to start the treatment of infected people in September with anti-retroviral drugs, which it (the government) ordered earlier in the year.
"The whole world will be watching you from September when this treatment starts," Lewis told Nigerian authorities.

29 july 2001 15:38:00

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