Zack Taylor, development outreach and communications specialist at the US agency for international development (USAID), says the United States government has invested an estimated $900 million worth of medicine to tackle diseases in Nigeria.
He said this during a health journalism seminar organised by the US consulate in Lagos, on Wednesday.
The event, coordinated by the consulate public affairs section, was themed: “Working Together to create Nigerian Solutions to Nigerian Challenges.”
Taylor said the USAID has its focus on primary healthcare services in Nigeria, adding that over 60 million Nigerians have benefited from its services.
“Our main focus is to boost primary healthcare system in Nigeria, with focus on primary healthcare,” he said.
“Our work has reached more than 60 million Nigerians with life save services, skilled health workers, and access to quality medicines, vaccines, medical facilities and family planning products.”
Other facilitators at the seminar include Usman Halilu, communications specialist, centers for disease control and prevention Centre for Disease Control (CDC), Nigeria, and Laura Chittenden, country director, US army medical research directorate.
Halilu said there is an urgent need for development in the health sector as globalisation has led to the quick spread of diseases.
He urged Nigerian journalists to demystify conversations around HIV/AIDS, adding that it should not appear as a death sentence as an infected individual can live a long, normal and productive life with the use of needed treatments.
“In today’s interconnected world, diseases can spread from an isolated rural village to any major city in as little as 36 hours. Disease knows no borders,” he said.
“In most cases, there is nothing mysterious about these diseases. I am concerned because it is always counterproductive in terms of risk communication. Even when the right information comes, the people find it hard to believe.”
Chittenden, who spoke on the Walter Reed programme in Nigeria, said the US government seeks to support healthcare of military personnel in order to strengthen the borders of the country.
In his address, Russel Brooks, the consulate public affairs officer, said most support from the US government to Nigeria is in the public health sector.
“The overwhelming support provided by the U.S. is in the health sector. We do a lot for Nigerians, we are directly involved in saving lives,” he said.
In attendance at the seminar were online, print and broadcast journalists across the state.