‘National HIV media advocacy platform critical towards ending AIDS by 2030’
•NACA, Jhpiego say Buhari will kick off National Trust Fund on HIV before end of 2021 to boost domestic funding
The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) in collaboration with John Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics (Jhpiego) has inaugurated a National HIV Media Advocacy Platform.
The platform was inaugurated in Lagos during a four-day ‘National HIV Media Advocacy/Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) skill building workshop’ organised by NACA in partnership with Jhpiego, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University (CHOICE project).
The national HIV-PrEP media advocacy /SBCC skills building workshop was held at the Lagos Continental hotel, Lagos with media practitioners across Nigeria in attendance.
HIV is Human Immuno-deficiency Virus, PrEP is Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis and AIDS is Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
The platform comprises media representatives from different states of the country, and head of public relations unit and zonal coordinators of NACA, among others.
Inaugurating the platform, the Director General, NACA, Dr. Gambo Aliyu, said the platform is expected to create more awareness on HIV and also change the way the media reports news using the best approach.
Aliyu who was represented by the South-West Zonal Coordinator of the agency, Raheem Mohammed, said the media is a critical stakeholder in the agency’s partnership efforts towards getting messages across to the public, as well as ending the epidemic by 2030.
He said media involvement, engagement and support is key in HIV response to ensure synergy in what the media reports and what NACA does. He said the agency is concentrating on building media capacity because it is a powerful tool in catalysing change at individual, community and policy levels.
“NACA’s vision in the National HIV strategic framework is for Nigeria to be a nation of people with functional knowledge of HIV/AIDS. The agency is focused on increasing visibility of the HIV responses by steadfastly strengthening the strategic partnerships among stakeholders at all levels.
“Ours is to equip them and see how essential it is that all populations are well informed and knowledgeable about the risks of HIV infection, prevention, treatment and care for ending the HIV and AIDS epidemic in Nigeria,” the NACA boss said.
Aliyu also said President Muhammadu Buhari would inaugurate a national trust fund on HIV before the end of this year. He said the trust fund would help lift the heavy burden on the government for domestic funding and ownership of the HIV response.
“We have gotten the commitment of all those that matter in the private sector for the trust fund,” he added.
Chief of Party, Jhpiego, Emmanuel Atuma, said the platform is expected to be a rallying point that would shape discussion on HIV, and continually keep it on the front burner.
He said the training workshop was deliberately tailored for the media as an important move towards consolidating on the value of institutional partnerships, as well as collaboration with the mass media to ensure that the media becomes significantly involved in the forefront of HIV and AIDS response in Nigeria.
He said the current National HIV strategic framework recognises that strengthening the use of social media platforms and traditional media to communicate a health promotion agenda is vitally important.
Atuma said media is a strategic ally in the fight to end HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, adding that training journalists and setting up of HIV advocacy platform at the national level is therefore an excellent initiative by NACA.
“The media is strategically positioned to promote safer behavior by challenging the norms, values and culture that fuel risky behavior, if they are well informed.
“This four-day training will additionally equip the media with skills in designing effective change programmes, developing stories that create impact, as well as advocacy skills –how they can maximise the power of the media as an advocacy agent to catalyse social change and influence HIV related policies,” he said.
At the training event, media practitioners had interactive sessions with various resource persons and were exposed to various innovations on social and behavioural change testing as well as the presentation of PrEP.
Other activities at the event included the election of the inaugural executives of the media advocacy team.