We’ll support Nigeria to achieve SDGs, says Gates Foundation

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The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) says it remains focused on building a global advocacy movement for the actualization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Nigeria.

Speaking with The Nation on Sunday in Abuja, BMGF’s Country Director, Mr. Paulin Basinga, its President (Global Policy & Advocacy), Mr. Mark Suzman and Mr. Rodger Voorhies, President of the Foundation’s Global Growth & Opportunity Division, expressed deference to Nigeria’s laws and government policies.

Suzman described Nigeria as one of BMGF’s priority countries, and said that a new global movement for development advocacy called ‘The Gatekeepers’ and driven by young Nigerians will soon take root the country.

“We have in the last two years, started to support a global movement we call ‘Goalkeepers’ which is very linked to the global Sustainable Development Goals that was launched at the UN in 2015; it is actually led and created by a great Nigerian and friend of our foundation, Amina Mohammed, who is now Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations.

“Its focus is on how to build communities that support those goals; this is a global development effort but we are prioritising Nigeria as one of the key partner countries where we operate, we are going to recruit individuals who are under-40, with majority of women and we will look for partners across sectors of philanthropy, civil society, mass media, the private sector.

“We are providing technical support expertise to help build constituencies of champions and we believe that better development outcomes are possible; the SDGs are goals that every country in the world including Nigeria has committed to for their own citizens.

“This is a wider advocacy movement, it will produce materials and reports every year around the UN General Assembly; by September, we’ll be seeing it driving discussions to energize communities that have domestic credibility to talk about local issues to their local governments and other leaders,” Suzman said.

Speaking in turns, the trio said it is the prerogative of each country to analyze data, identify vulnerable sub-groups and decide relevant strategies it would use to tackle an epidemic like HIV and AIDS.

According to Businga, the BMGF has already made significant contributions to Nigeria’s battle against HIV and AIDS through The Global Fund to fight HIV and AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

He said: “Part of the latest developments in HIV and AIDS issue concerning Nigeria is that the United States government, the Global Fund and the Nigerian government contributed to fund the largest survey towards really understanding what the current level of HIV prevalence is, in Nigeria; it was aimed towards helping the government to understand the patterns of prevalence and now, they are doing further analysis to understand what are the pockets of increasing prevalence.

“We are following that but we at the Gates Foundation do support HIV prevention globally through The Global Fund to fight HIV and AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria but here in Nigeria, our work is really focused on supporting primary health care.

“So, if the LGBT community is found (by Nigeria) to be disproportionately affected by HIV, I think it will be really important that there is a significant way of addressing that but this is not something that the Gates Foundation does here, given that it (HIV control ) is already well-supported by the US government and the Global Fund.”

Pointing out that both the World Health Organisation and the Global Fund which their foundation support both have guidelines and strategies for addressing behaviour change for all relevant sub-communities, Mr. Mark Suzman and Mr. Rodger Voorhies emphasized their commitment to a new level of global development advocacy.FacebookTwitterPinterestLinkedInWhatsAppEmailTags:Nigeria NewsNigerian NewspaperThe Nation newspaper

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