SIDHAS rescues over 24,000 Nigeria babies from HIV/AIDS infection

PHOTO CAPTION: U.S. Charge d’Affaires Kathleen FitzGibbon (center) and USAID Deputy Mission Director Katie Donohoe (left) present a plaque of appreciation to Abdulkadir Ibrahim, National Coordinator for the Nigerian Network of People Living with HIV (right) for contributing to the success of the 10-year $448 million SIDHAS activity managed by USAID.

Strengthening Integrated Delivery of HIV/AIDS Services (SIDHAS), a United States government I has prevented over 24,000 babies from been infected with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.

Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN), National Coordinator, Abdulkadir Ibrahim disclosed this at an event to mark the closing of a the U.S. government activity that made a significant contribution to the HIV response in Nigeria over the last decade.

According to him, SEDHAS an initiative of the US government Presidents’ Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was implemented in Nigeria by FHI 360.

Abdulkadir said, apart from the provision of HIV testing and counselling for over 4.6million pregnant women in the country, SEDHAS also provided antiretroviral medications for over 96,000 women who tested HIV positive.

Noting that the initiative has also provided a life-saving antiretroviral treatment for over 474,000 people in the country,
Ibrahim further disclosed that it has also provided care and support for over 74,000 orphans and vulnerable children.

In her keynote address, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Kathleen FitzGibbon disclosed that the initiative has delivered a lifesaving treatment to over 1.5 million individuals which represent more than 83 percent of the total estimated 1.8 million Nigerian people living with HIV.

According to FitzGibbon, through PEPFAR, the U.S has also supported comprehensive services to over one million vulnerable children and their family members impacted by HIV.

She explained that PEPFAR is implemented in Nigeria by the USAID, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, leveraging the power of a whole-of-government approach to controlling the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.

“It’s been a great source of pride for me to witness the success of the U.S. government’s partnership with Nigeria to get HIV epidemic control within our reach.

“The U.S. PEPFAR team has worked closely with government stakeholders to urgently reorient the national response to address areas with the highest HIV burden.”

On his part, Minister of Health Dr Osagie Ehanaire who was represented by Director of Public Health Dr M.O. Alex-Okoh attributed the progress recorded in Nigeria’s HIV response in the last ten years to the significant financial investments into the programme during the
period it lasted.

Ehanire said: “As we get closer to achieving epidemic control in Nigeria, the discourse has shifted more and more to emphasize the need for greater sustainability.

“I recognize the need to view sustainability from a broad base which includes and addresses programmatic, epidemiologic and financial sustainability.”

According to the Minister, the federal government is contributing 4.2 million rapid test kits into the national commodities pool as part of it’s commitment for more responsive ownership
and increased domestic investment.