The U.S. on Friday in Abuja signed 469 million dollars (about N147.5 billion) Country Operation Plan (COP) to support HIV prevention, care and treatment programmes in Nigeria.

The COP was signed by the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, Ambassador-at-Large, Deborah Birx, and Director-General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr Sani Aliyu.

The ceremony was witnessed by the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, who said that “Nigerian is working with the embassy and others are committed to changing Nigerian history for better.”

Birx said that the COP was an annual programme plan for U.S. Government investments in the Nigeria National HIV/AIDS Response through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

“U.S. Government commitment to the Nigeria COP 2017 is approximately 469 million dollars including centrally funded initiatives, to support HIV prevention, care and treatment programmes in the country.

“Since its inception in Nigeria in 2004, PEPFAR has disbursed more than 4.3 billion dollars in support of the Nigeria HIV/AIDS.

“It is a rare privilege to be here and it is a historic moment because it is the first time we ever signed a U.S. government commitment HIV/AIDS to a country in a country,” she said.

She said that the present U.S. Administration was committed to the issue of HIV/AIDS and also committed to the people and Nigerian government who she said was doing something big at the moment.

The envoy said that the authorities in Nigeria had been working to ensure that all Nigerians can thrive free of HIV/AIDS and be free of the disease.

She said that COP signing was important because it would help to give more understanding on how to control the pandemic by the year 2020.

Birx said that the U.S. was also committed to ensuring that the HIV/AIDS was put under control in Nigeria by the year 2020.

“As a partner and the American people to the government and the people of Nigeria, our commitment is to really control this pandemic.

“I think Nigeria can go from the lowest number in West and Central Africa to the leadership position that it should be,” she said.

The director-general of NACA expressed appreciation for the help rendered by the U.S. government in fighting HIV/AIDS in the country.

“We are just about crossing the first million persons on treatment most of which is driven by U.S. government that has put more than 700,000 on treatment.

“U.S. is also committed to putting an addition 260,000 people on treatment that means that the U.S. government is keeping alive hundreds of thousands of Nigerians.

“We are grateful for that, we are also appreciative of the confidence repose on us,” Aliyu said.

According to him, the Nigerian government will work closely with the U.S. government to continue to advocate for greater resources.

“We know our responsibility as government and we will make sure that we deliver on it,” the director-general said. (NAN)

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