By John Okeke
U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Kathleen FitzGibbon joined Nigerian Federal Director of Public Health Dr. M.O. Alex-Okoh representing Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanaire to mark the closing of a U.S. government activity that made a significant contribution to the HIV response in Nigeria over the last decade.
The Strengthening Integrated Delivery of HIV/AIDS Services (SIDHAS) activity is supported by the Presidents’ Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Since 2011, SIDHAS, implemented by FHI 360, has been a leader in a continuum of U.S. government support for HIV control.
Through PEPFAR, the U.S. government delivers lifesaving treatment to over 1.5 million individuals, more than 83 percent of the total estimated 1.8 million Nigerian people living with HIV and supports comprehensive services to over one million vulnerable children and their family members impacted by HIV.
PEPFAR is implemented in Nigeria by the U.S. State Department, 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,” FitzGibbon said at the event. “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.”
SIDHAS made significant contributions to the national HIV response through improving integration of HIV/AIDS and TB services into the Nigerian health system and helping deliver higher quality prevention and treatment to HIV-positive people and their families.
SIDHAS began operating in all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory in 2011, and over the years has evolved to focus on “hot spots” of HIV incidence as identified by the activity’s interventions and results.
Along the way, SIDHAS has strengthened institutional, technical, and financial capacities of local health systems in planning, training of health workers, and support for community-based organizations active in the health sectors.
This support helped streamline and standardize Nigeria’s HIV prevention and care response and improved the geographic reach of high-quality treatment services, most recently through “surge” interventions in Akwa Ibom and Cross River states since 2019.
Through partnership with the Government of Nigeria, the U.S. Government and the multilateral Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria, Nigeria has demonstrated areduction in HIV prevalencefrom 4.1 percent in 2010 to 1.4 percent in 2018. New annual infections have dropped 26 percent from 230,000 in 2010 to 170,000 in 2018.
As Nigeria accelerates toward meeting the United Nations goal of global HIV eradication by 2030, USAID programs will continue to maintain critical momentum to propel HIV prevention, care, support, and treatment where it is needed most in Nigeria.