1.Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my pleasure to be here today for this event marking Nigeria’s 2017 World AIDS Day commemorations, which is taking place under the theme, ‘Right to Health – Making it Happen’. Indeed, it is important to identify and support the fight against the spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and to raise awareness about treatment, while supporting and identifying with those living with the condition, even as we remember those we have lost to the disease by adopting the red ribbon symbol of global solidarity. This is why World AIDS Day is so important. I thank the Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr. Sani Aliyu, for inviting me.

2.29 years ago, the world commemorated the first ‘World AIDS Day’. It is worth remembering that ‘World AIDS Day’ was the initiative of the late Dr. Jonathan Mann, founder of the World Health Organisation’s Global Programme on AIDS, whose work lives on. That first commemoration, in 1988, took place at the height of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, when what was then seen as a ‘strange disease’ took on apocalyptic proportions, threatening communities throughout the world, and with no sign of containment.

3.Today, as we commemorate the 29th World’s AIDS Day, it is heartening to note that much progress has been made, thanks in no small measure to global mobilisation of resources to checkmate the virus, and the concern demonstrated by the world community – Nigeria included – to address and fight the spread of HIV/AIDS.

4.The United Nations and its individual member states rose in unison to take steps to build institutions to coordinate the global response to the HIV/AIDS challenge. Even more crucial was the emergence and willingness of partners to support the fight against HIV/AIDS in many countries, including in Nigeria, which has the second largest epidemic in the world.

5.The response of the global community to contain the spread of HIV/AIDS has yielded positive results, particularly with the development of and deployment of effective anti-retroviral medicines – to not only fight the disease, but also to check and stop the transmission from mother to child.

6.However, despite the progress made in containing the spread of HIV/AIDS, there remains the need to sustain and increase the awareness of the continuing presence of HIV/AIDS in our communities. We must also continue to work to end the stigmatisation and discrimination of people living with HIV. People living with HIV in Nigeria should not be denied access to jobs, education or in any way ostracised on account of their status. It is also a known fact that 40 percent of those living with HIV are unaware of their status. By ending discrimination and stigmatisation, we make it easier for more Nigerians to undergo testing to know their status, and to get treatment as appropriate. Thanks to anti-retroviral drugs, those living with HIV/AIDS can now have normal life expectancy, and this is good news for all of us. This is why access to treatment is so crucial.

7.As the Executive Director of UNAIDS has noted, “The right to health is a fundamental human right.” This year’s global theme for the World AIDS Day, ‘Right to Health’, which has been appropriately adapted for national relevance to ‘Right to Health – Making It Happen’, underscores the need to join national solutions to the support and demand of partners for transparency and accountability in our national response to HIV/AIDS initiatives.

8.With the gradual decline in donor support for HIV/AIDS activities, we must devise ways to not only sustain the gains that have been made in the fight against HIV/AIDS but also to ensure that the rights of people living with HIV are respected.

9.As we drive towards Universal Health coverage, the right of every Nigerian to basic healthcare, includes the right of citizens living with HIV to obtain the necessary support they need to maintain an improved health status. As a Fast-Track country, Nigeria’s HIV/AIDS response is guided by the National Strategic Framework 2017-2021, which aims for zero new infections and zero deaths from HIV, while zero mother-to-child transmission remains a priority.

10.We in the National Assembly will support every effort by the Executive to ensure that people living with HIV have access to antiretroviral drugs. We welcome the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari to use domestic funds to maintain 60,000 people living with HIV on treatment and cover an additional 50,000 people each year.

11.As government commits more resources to the management of the HIV/AIDS, we commend the initiative of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) to seek partnership with the private sector and indigenous foundations to supplement the effort of government and the benevolence of donor partners.

12.That prevention is better than cure is an adage that applies directly to the fight against HIV/AIDS. NACA must sustain its prevention initiatives, in addition to taking steps to establish a reliable HIV/AIDS profile for the nation.

13.As we seek to ensure the availability and affordable access to antiretroviral drugs to people living with HIV, we wholeheartedly encourage the initiative to manufacture these lines of medicines in Nigeria. This is in line with the National Assembly’s promotion and support of Made-In-Nigeria products, particularly, our partnership with the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria.

14.I note that events lined up for Nigeria’s World AIDS Day commemoration include: HIV testing and counseling, candlelight event, as well as football and other sports, and social media awareness with adolescents and young people. The focus on adolescents is commendable, as we have, at times, been in danger of leaving behind those between the ages of 10 to 19 who were born with HIV, in these efforts. One message I hope will resonate on this World AIDS Day, is that we must not leave our adolescents and young people behind in the fight against HIV/AIDS. We want them to be in good health, so they can take the lead in birthing the Nigeria of tomorrow.

15.I pray for good health for all Nigerians, and I wish us all a wonderful and impactful 2017 World AIDS Day.

Thank you.


Abubakar Bukola Saraki MBBS CON (pronunciationⓘ; born on 19 December 1962) is a Nigerian politician who served as the 13th president of the Nigerian Senate from 2015 to 2019.[1][2] He previously served as the governor of Kwara State from 2003 to 2011; and was elected to the Senate in 2011, under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), representing the Kwara Central Senatorial District, and then re-elected in the 2015 general elections