Consultant seeks stronger laws that guarantee Nigerians’ right to healthcare
Ahead of the World AIDS Day, 2022, an Abuja-based public health consultant, Mr. Thomas Ofem, has called on the National Assembly to urgently make a law to protect the rights of all Nigerians to the health care they need and ensure its enforcement.
Ofem also urged the National Assembly, as a matter of urgency, to repeal laws that make it difficult for sex workers, men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs and other sexual minorities to access available HIV and AIDS treatment and care services.
In a statement he released to mark this year’s World AIDS Day, with the theme, “End Inequalities, End AIDS”, Ofem said, “to end AIDS in Nigeria we must end AIDS among all population segments.”
He also noted that laws and policies that reduce access to available HIV services by sex workers, men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs and other stigmatised and marginalised populations only worsen Nigeria’s AIDS epidemic.
Quoting statistics by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Ofem noted: “1,600,000 Nigerians aged 15 years and above live with HIV, translating into an average national HIV prevalence rate of 1.3 per cent.”
Ofem is a Public Health Consultant with core expertise in Social and Behaviour Change. As Strategic Behavioural Communication Advisor with FHI360 (2004 – 2006), he led the team that designed and deployed the Heart2Heart campaign to create demand for HIV testing in Nigeria.
Ofem is currently supporting the South-south learning network for HIV prevention among countries in sub-Saharan Africa.