“As far as you can go, we will follow you”... Local Leadership for HIV Prevention
Hope is a 14-year-old boy from the Ardo Kola area of Taraba State in northeast Nigeria. When members of the Gembu Centre for HIV/AIDS Advocacy Nigeria program visited Hope’s community, they found him thin, pale, and in pain-unable to walk or talk.
Hope’s eyes were yellowish and he had sores all over his body. Upon inquiries about his condition, it was revealed that although Hope had been ill for several years and had never been to a hospital for proper diagnosis. His late parents were also said to have been sick for some time before they died four years ago. An HIV test was done with the consent of Hope’s caregiver and the result was positive. Hope had likely been living with HIV since he was born.
Nigeria has the highest unmet need amongst HIV-positive women requiring antiretroviral treatment to prevent transmission of the disease to their babies. However, a 2011 report from Nigeria’s National Agency for the Control of AIDS indicated that less than 4% of health facilities in Nigeria provide PMTCT services.
To help bridge this gap, PEPFAR partners, the government of Kogi and Kwara States and three for-profit private hospitals have formed a new public-private partnership (PPP) to reach HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment goals. The partnership is now being piloted to scale-up PMTCT services in Kogi and Kwara States, with the goal of improving Nigeria’s national response to HIV/AIDS.
A wider and more effective PMTCT system has the potential to virtually eliminate transmission of HIV from mothers to their children and keep them from suffering like Hope did for so many years.
Today, Hope is like a new child. He has been receiving treatment and support through PEPFAR and the American people. He has regained the ability to walk and talk and has returned to school with his peers.
According to his caregiver, “If not for this assistance, I wonder what would have happened to him. I am forever grateful for this show of love.”
Reflecting on the importance of this PMTCT partnership, Dr. Isah Adebayo Raheem, Medical Director of Aishat Memorial Hospital said: “a lot of people are poor and can’t afford medical services; the PEPFAR-supported Management and Science for Health (MSH) is making things easier for the poor masses and Nigeria at large. I’m very happy with this partnership as there are no limits …. As far as you can go, we will follow you.”
Support for the public-private partnership comes from PEPFAR through the Prevention Organizational Systems AIDS Care and Treatment (ProACT) Project implemented by Management and Science for Health, the government of Nigeria, and Epitope Hospital, Aishat Memorial Hospital, and Helping Hands Hospital.
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