A centre to serve as a clearing house and repository of national and state level information on HIV/AIDS and other related health conditions was Tuesday unveiled in Abuja.
Director General of National NACA, Prof. John Idoko, said at the inauguration of the outfit, known as the National HIV/AIDS Resource Centre (NHRC), that the central clearing house and virtual network would support an online searchable database of information, research outcomes, training manuals, operating plans, reports, tools developed by researchers, bilateral organisations, funders, and implementing partners.
Noting that all of these could be accessed by all stakeholders, Idoko explained that knowledge and information lacked value unless they were used systematically to inform decisions so as to improve health outcomes.
"Virtual NHRC will be a key tool for strengthening NACA's ability to manage information as well as create a community of practice around monitoring and evaluation and operations research," he said.
"This latter function will build capacities of state-level practitioners and programme managers while providing information on cost-effective approaches and programme impact."
According to him: "In order to ensure that data sources available through the NHRC to meet the information needs of service providers and there is continued growth in the number of social scientists, health and developmental professionals referencing NHRC-approved data and information sources for evidence-based planning and decision-making, the NHRC will take an active role in the promotion and use of evidence."
Further underscoring the importance of the centre, Idoko said: "If you know your epidemic you will know your response. How do you know your epidemic? You have got to gather your data and your information correctly. Because if you don't have it well, then you are not going to do the right thing.
"And it is the work here, the information that we do here that we are going to use for our work that will show us where the road is, as far as the response. People are going to get the fact.
"In the past we didn't have a centre where anyone can go to. When I say anyone, it includes journalists. We didn't have a centre where you can go and get information.
"But when we create a centre like this, you can come here and get that information that will tell you all the things that you need to know about the epidemic - where are the hot spots, who are involved, what are the risk factors, and what drives the epidemic."
According to him, that is the only way you will be able to tackle this epidemic.
"We discovered for instance, that young people don't have information," he said.
"I like what they are doing. You know, this structure you are seeing is small. The big structure is in the cloud, if you know what I mean by that. It has got a website and young people like going to the net these days. So we can educate them about HIV, TB, and Malaria, reproductive health, immunisation, through this means."