By Hassan Zaggi
The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) initiative have concluded plans to commence the implementation of the 2nd phase of support for faith-based organizations response to HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.
The 1st phase which was the mobilization and organization of the faith-based community was able to achieve the setting up of the national faith-based working group as well as developed a robust faith-based HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan 2018-2022.
Speaking during the virtual meeting set up by NACA and joined by relevant stakeholders via Zoom Conferencing Call, the Director General of NACA, Dr Gambo Aliyu, represented by a Deputy Director in NACA, Dr. Chigozie Ujam, stated that relevant stakeholders in this initiative included the faith-based leaders of both Islamic and Christian faiths.
Also included were implementing partners who are going to be involved in the implementation of the already developed strategic plan, taking on different thematic areas of the plan.
According to Dr. Ujam, the 2nd phase activities are a continuation of the first cycle and they include stigma reduction and human rights, HIV & Gender Based Violence/ human trafficking in humanitarian and conflict- affected areas, Paediatric HIV, adherence counselling and referral mechanisms, coordination and capacity strengthening.
Other activities include HIV & COVID-19 risk communication, social mobilization, and psychosocial support.
Representatives of the faith-based organizations at the meeting expressed satisfaction with the new development, promising to ensure that the goal of the initiatives are achieved while they assured those in attendance that all the mobilized mosques, churches and related organization across the 36 states of the Federation, including Federal Capital Territory are ready to cooperate with NACA, UNAIDS and PEPFAAR to judiciously put to use the funds that will be disbursed for the various activities as already mentioned by the NACA representative during the meeting.
On the part of UNAIDS and PEPFAR, the implementing partners were advised not to rely on the limited available funds for the 2nd phase of the initiative, but that they should look for innovative ways to mobilize resources which can help expand and sustain the faith-based HIV/AIDS response in Nigeria.
The initiative will be implemented in 8 African countries including Nigeria.
Other African countries include Cameroon, Coted’ivoire, DRC, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
Findings indicate that UNAIDS and PEPFAR are providing 4 million USD for this initiative. It will run for 2 years.