The Nasarawa State Commissioner of Health, Pharm. Ahmed Baba Yahaya has said the target of the Nasarawa State Government is to reduce the prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS to Zero level, assuring that this is achievable through consistent partnership with donor agencies, implementing partners and other stakeholders that will fight the epidemic in the state.
The Commissioner stated this at the 5-day workshop on 2020 Annual Operational Plan (AOP) Review and 2021 AOP Development for HIV Health Sector Response at Kini Country INN, Akwanga on Monday 14th December 2020.
He further explained that the prevalence of HIV scourge was reducing due to the support from the Government, public sensitization, various support from partners and efforts by the staff of the Health Ministry in fighting the scourge.
He, therefore, expressed the determination of the health team in the fight against HIV in the State to do their best to achieve the global target of eliminating the scourge by 2030.
He commended FHI360 leadership and coordination role as the principal recipient to the Global Fund Optimizing HIV Investment for Impact Project as well as AHNi efforts so far in Nasarawa State.
Speaking earlier, the Director of Public Health, Dr. Ibrahim Adamu Alhassan said the objective of the workshop was to review program performance in 2020 with the view to improving in the 2021 operational plan, to document successes, challenges and lessons learnt as well as to develop a costed 2021 HIV and AIDS Annual Operational Plan of the State that is realistic, cost effective and implementable based on available resources that will make it achievable.
Dr Ishaku Bako, the workshop facilitator, said if stigmatisation against victims was eliminated, it would encourage those with the condition to avail themselves of the testing and treatment.
“One of the ways to stop the spread of HIV is for everybody who is yet to ascertain his/her status to avail himself/herself for testing and those found positive be placed on treatment and those on treatment to adhere to it.
“Efforts must be made to ensure that all pregnant women attend antenatal and deliver in the facilities in order to prevent HIV infection through prevention of mother-to-child transmission,” he added.
Dr. Bako commended the leadership of the state Ministry of Health and NASACA for providing an enabling environment for the success achieved in the state HIV response in the previous year despite the COVID 19 pandemic.
Contributing, Mr. Philip Lokoko, Nasarawa State Coordinator of the Network of People Living with HIV commended the government and other development partners for assisting them to live a normal life in spite of their status.
He, however, noted that stigmatisation by medical personnel and the public was a serious impediment, saying many sufferers were shying away from testing and receiving treatment.
He, therefore, urged the public to help in curtailing the spread of HIV by desisting from discrimination against the sufferers as well as appeal for more support and funding of HIV/AIDS program in the state as partners and donors are closing out their activities.
Dr Peter Attah, the Coordinator, State AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections Control Programme (SASCP), called for more government’s support to the programme for its sustenance beyond the donor funding.
He said that efforts of the team had yielded great results in reducing the prevalence rate of the disease from 8.3% in 2015 to as low as 2% in 2018 (NAIIS)in the state.
He added that as at June 2020, no fewer than 49,755 people were living with HIV and receiving treatments in various health facilities across the state with over 20,000 more still living with the disease yet to be identified and place on treatment.
He added that HIV is still a huge challenge in the state with funding and manpower needs are the major impediment in the state.
The 2021 AOP workshop is supported by Achieving Health Nigeria Initiative (AHNi) drew participants from Ministry of Health, Nasarawa State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Nasarawa State AIDS Control Agency (NASACA), Hospital Management Board, Implementing Partners such as AHNi, CHAI, CRS, IHVN and AHF , NEPWHAN, APYIN and the workshop among other things will seek for more bilateral synergy among the key actors in the Health sector to achieve its target.