World AIDS Day 2017 Commemoration – “Right to Health – Making it Happen”
World AIDS Day 2017
Public health days are set aside to promote important public health issues. These days, though set by the World Health Organization, are usually domesticated by countries and activities are set in-country by government in partnership with stakeholders and other key players in the health sector. Under this aegis, concerted effort is built for public awareness on the specific health issue and policy makers are engaged in conversations for policies that will change the tides of national response and aligns it with the global response. It provides opportunity for a yearlong update on the effort of the Nigerian Government to control such health issue and also garner support through media campaigns to promote public health awareness, by making information on new health interventions available. In line with her mission statement, APIN Public Health Initiatives had keyed into the aforementioned broad objectives in different ways to support several public health days in Nigeria, ranging from World TB Day, World AIDS day, World Blood Donors day, World Malaria day, and Maternal and Child health week and so on. APIN had domesticated all the global themes set each year to represent and summarize current effort and strategic shifts for appropriate response to the epidemic. In addition to innovative arrangements within the organization to engage the people at the community and facility level, APIN supports the government at different levels by hosting expanded stakeholder planning meetings and guides the framework in-terms of content to achieve desired national goals. Working with relevant stakeholders in the supported states, APIN weighs in on these PH days to engage the policy makers in the right conversations expressed by the yearly themes and slogans released to mark the days. Beyond awareness creation and community sensitization that remain inseparable from commemorating public health days, APIN engages youths of different age groups and interests in tailored discussions, novelty matches, school quiz competitions, debates, games and sports that culminates in endorsing best practices and well-articulated narratives of international standard. Outcome of these activities include recruitment of voluntary unpaid blood donors to support in-country safe blood program, successful advocacy to State hospital management boards on support for trainings for HCWs and qualitative blood service delivery, comprehensive HIV Testing Service delivery with robust prevention messages (including condom demonstration and distribution) and community engagements to reduce stigma and discrimination of PLHIV. Furthermore, activities to mark Maternal and new-born child Health (MNCH) week at the facilities and within the communities had been heightened towards elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV. Activities designed for the week had consistently aimed at reaching pregnant women, nursing mothers and their babies, and women of child bearing age with essential health services. These efforts would be intensified to yield more lasting results of increased resource mobilization at all tiers of government.
2017 World AIDS Day
An historic event took place in Geneva, on the 6 November, 2017 – in the lead-up to World AIDS Day on December 1, The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) launched this year’s World AIDS Day campaign theme: Right To Health with the slogan, My Health, My Right. This is the 29th theme for World AIDS Day, since its inception in 1988. World AIDS Day campaign focuses on a specific theme, chosen following consultations with UNAIDS, WHO and a large number of grassroots, national and international agencies involved in the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. The #myrighttohealth campaign will provide information about the right to health and what impact it has on people’s lives. It also aims to increase the visibility around the need to achieve the full realization of the right to health by everyone, everywhere.
Here in Nigeria, this year’s theme has been adapted, for national relevance to “Right to Health – Making it Happen”. World AIDS Day offers the opportunity to highlight the success of worldwide efforts to combat HIV/AIDS as well as importance of continued support for these efforts. According to the press release by the Director General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) Dr. Sani Aliyu, last Wednesday, 22nd November, 2017, through a presentation titled ‘The Government of Nigeria’s Commitment to ownership and Sustainability of HIV Response in Nigeria’, the DG said that “it is important to bring all state governments to national response by ensuring that all states have budget lines for HIV/AIDS in the 2018 national budget and with a clear commitment to release of approved budgets”. At the same event last Wednesday, UNAIDS Country Director reiterated the fact that Nigeria has the 2nd highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Africa and that he would encourage all men in Nigeria to go and get tested, and that the right to health of Nigerians must be taken seriously by Nigerians instead of relying on donors, because a healthy nation is a wealthy nation. He emphasized that Nigerian government must invest in the health of Nigerians. In a quick succession, the WHO country director aligned with the goodwill messages from the UNAIDS Country director and encouraged ‘Nigeria government to ensure all Nigerians have right to health by investing in the health of Nigerians’.
The HIV pandemic is most severe in Sub-Saharan Africa. Over 60% of all people living with HIV reside within the region. 3.4 million Individuals have been estimated to be living with HIV in Nigeria and this has been rated as the 2nd highest burden in Africa. Worthy of note is the fact that only about 1.1 million (32%) of the PLHIV in Nigeria know that they are living with the virus, while 970,000 people are on treatment with about 780,000 PLHIV attaining viral suppression. This is a far cry from the UNAIDS 90.90.90 goal, which outlined targets that must be achieved and interventions that must be front-loaded to close the chapter of AIDS epidemic globally by the year 2030! The ambitious, but achievable goal states:
- By 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status.
- By 2020, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy.
- By 2020, 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.
Nigeria has aligned with the global community to treat all infected with HIV, however about 68% of people living with HIV are not aware of their status for them to be placed on treatment. This create a huge gap in curbing the spread of the virus. In 2016, an average of 160,000 AIDS-related deaths occurred with 37,000 new infections among children in Nigeria. It is critical to get the first 90 RIGHT…Right to HIV treatment begins with Right approach to HIV Testing services!
Right to Health: Making it Happen
APIN Public Health initiatives continues to deploy innovative and evidenced based strategies to ensuring that the people at substantial risk of HIV have access to HIV testing Services (HTS). Such proven strategies include partner testing services and index patients family testing; reaching men by testing during weekends and in the evening in strategic places, tweaking strategies to encourage uptake of HTS by adolescents and young women of reproductive age, intensified case finding among children that include reaching mothers and siblings through sick babies and children under the age of 5 years that show up at the clinic. Effort shall also be scaled-up towards active HIV case finding among TB patients as well as patients presenting at STI clinics. Another major bottleneck that shall be addressed is achieving at least 90% linkage of newly diagnosed HIV positive persons. Having deployed targeted HTS, different models of human and technology driven approaches is being enshrined in APIN program to achieve desired efficiency and yield in terms of complete linkage to treatment.
APIN through her well-structured program interventions in the last five grant years (1st Oct. 2012 – 30th Sept. 2017) aligned with funders precepts, in 3 states of the country, had provided HIV Testing services to 4,475,318 individuals and had 70,655 enrolled in her treatment program with 84% viral load suppression rate among those on treatment – a great leap towards the 90% UNAIDS goal.
With more responsibility to implement HIV/AIDS program in eight states of the country in the next 5 years (2017 – 2022) under the new Improving Comprehensive AIDS Response Enhanced for Sustainability (iCARES) project, APIN Public Health initiatives is determined to utilize its role as CDC lead implementing partner in 8 states, to engage the state institutions and relevant stakeholders in the right conversations that shall drive expected commitment, responsibility and leadership for HIV/AIDS Program in respective states towards program sustainability, impact and achievement of each states’ 90.90.90 targets. This global agenda to end AIDS by 2030, shall be appropriately interpreted into state specific implementable plans and activities, highlighting clear roles and responsibilities, with achievable milestones and process/progress indicators that can be monitored and evaluated from time to time.
This shall be our thrust to “MAKING RIGHT TO HEALTH HAPPEN!”
Right to health: Making it Happen!!
Happy World AIDS Day!
#myrighttohealth #righttoHTS #righttotreatment #IncreaseDomesticFunding #righttoprevention #RighttoPMTCT