A population based reproductive health survey in Nigeria has shown a declining incidence in cases of HIV infections among Nigerians.
From a peak prevalence of 5.8 percent in 2003 to a reduction of 4.4 percent in 2005, as indicated in a survey among women attending Antenatal Clinics across various parts of the country, the National Agency for the Control of AIDS in Nigeria (NACA) and other organisations working in the field of HIV/AIDS in the country have announced a further reduction in the prevalence to 3.6 percent across various sections of Nigeria’s population.
The recent statistics, which was revealed to Daily Independent by President of Ibadan, Oyo State-based Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH), Professor Oladipo Oladapo, comes as the joint United Nations Organisation on AIDS (UNAIDS) estimates that in Nigeria, around 3.1 percent of adults between ages 15-49 are living with HIV/AIDS.
Another good news emanating from Nigeria is that all the three bodies appointed as Principal Recepients to access Round 5 of the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS have all surpassed set targets as at the end of the first phase of implementation.
This was revealed by the Director General of NACA, Professor Babatunde Osotimehin, at a retreat to review the performances of all the three Principal recipients including NACA, Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH) and the Society for Family Health (SFH) and 15 sub-recipients. Osotimehin disclosed in Lagos that NACA has the mandate, under the Global Fund implementation, to scale up comprehensive HIV/AIDS treatment, care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS to all the 37 states of the country over 5 years.
"Part of NACA’s objectives under the Global Fund is increase capacity of the private sector to implement workplace programmes in 12 states, and to strengthen capacity of implementing institutions for effective programme management, coordination, monitoring and evaluation. It is gladdening to note that NACA and other Principal Recipients of the Global Fund grants have achieved and surpassed all set target by a minimum of 105 percent," he said.
Records made available to Daily Independent by NACA shows that the 28,000 persons targeted to receive Antiretroviral Treatments (ART) at Global Fund sites was surpassed to 38,939. For the number of People Living With AIDS (PLWHA), the initial target of 300,000 was overstretched to 41,039, while 102 ART service delivery points were established as against the projected 62.
"The number of HIV positive pregnant women receiving complete course of prophylaxis was over-shot from the targeted 3,420 to 3,987, while the number of private enterprises providing interventions for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment to the workforce increased from the targeted 95 to 110 in the first two years of implementing the Global Fund grants," Osotimehin said.
Similar results were also achieved by ARFH. According to Oladapo, Association for Reproductive and Family Health, is the principal recipient for objectives 3 and 4, which aims to strengthen the role of the community, Civil Society Organisations and Networks of PLWHAs in providing and supporting HIV/AIDS treatment and care. The objective 4 also aims to increase access to care and support services for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC). With supports for and from Sub-Recipients Network of People Living with HIV in Nigeria (NEPWHAN), Civil Society for HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (CiSHAN), NYSC and the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development (FMWA&SD), ARFH was able to reach out to 80 of 62 targeted numbers of PLWHA Support Groups fighting stigma and discrimination.
Available records also show that 320 people as against the projected 248 of group members were trained in stigma reduction, whereas 681 community groups as against 540 were trained to provide care for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC). Similar records were achieved by ARFH on information dissemination, psychological support for PLWHA and families.
The impressive records of the Society for Family Health (SFH) and the other agencies in the first phase of implementation of the round 5 grant of Global Fund for HIV/AIDS has prompted the body to approve their grant for phase two.
SFH’s Deputy Managing Director, Special Projects, Mr. Joe Odogwu, Said, "SFH has the mandate to expand access to HIV testing and counseling services to cover all 37 States in the country for which we have done for 403,693 as against the 362,500 targeted."
To effectively do this, 245 service delivery points providing counselling and testing with minimum conditions to provide quality service were established instead of the targeted 222.
Speaking on lessons learnt from previous incidences that led to the withdrawal grants to Nigeria, Osotimehin said, "We have moved beyond those days where we lacked adequate technology, manpower and knowledge on implementation. Now we have moved on to a position where we are surpassing Global Fund targets and willing to go beyond current achievements." In proof of acknowledgement of the achievements recorded in the phase one implementation, the Global Fund has committed additional $18,915,800 for the phase two for SFH. Others are in the process of being granted similar approval. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was created to dramatically increase resources to fight three of the world’s most devastating diseases, and to direct those resources to areas of greatest need. In the last five years, it has committed $180,448,985 to HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.
As of mid 2008, with Global Fund resources 1.75 million people are receiving antiretroviral treatment, while 46 million HIV testing and counseling sessions were conducted. Also 2.8 million orphans were provided with medical services, education and community care by the same period courtesy of resources from Global Fund. Meanwhile, the Nigerian government has stepped efforts to compliment foreign aids to reduce the burden of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.
Only last week, Federal Executive Council approved an allocation of N7billion (about $60 million) for the purchase of HIV/AIDS and malaria drugs from local pharmaceutical manufacturers.
The announcement was made by President Yar’Adua at the 81st Annual National Conference of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) held in Abuja. Although the HIV prevalence is much lower in Nigeria than in other African countries such as South Africa and Zambia, the size of Nigeria’s population (around 140 million) meant that by the end of 2007, there were an estimated 2,600,000 people infected with HIV, according to UNAIDS.
Statistics from UNAIDS show that about 170,000 people died from AIDS in 2007 alone, and that with AIDS claiming so many people’s lives, Nigeria’s life expectancy has declined from 53.8 years for women and 52.6 years for men in 1991 to 46 for women and 47 for men In 2007.