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Nigeria evolves strategy to tackle HIV infections in adolescents

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Members of Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN), Lagos Chapter during their Walk to Zero at Ikeja, Lagos state PHOTO: TAYO OREDOLA

Members of Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN), Lagos Chapter during their Walk to Zero at Ikeja, Lagos state PHOTO: TAYO OREDOLA

• Govt to establish 10, 000 primary healthcare centres
• Aisha Buhari wants maternal deaths curbed
• Mothers march against violence on women, children

NIGERIA yesterday announced bold steps to curb rising cases of HIV infections in people under age 25, as it announced the completion of work on the nation’s first HIV strategy for adolescents and young people.
The strategic document, which is a report of three year of intense research, aims to address the growing burden of the HIV epidemic on Nigeria’s youth.

Officials said in Abuja yesterday that the document, which is scheduled for launch this month, is collaboration between the Population Council, the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), and the United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF).

Speaking at an End of Project Dissemination/Dialogue Event in Abuja, Country Director of Population Council, Dr. Sylvia Adebajo, noted that the burden of HIV among the youth in Africa was so high that it shapes the overall epidemic. She also spoke on efforts to address the situation.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, announced at the 2015 family planning consultative stakeholders’ forum in Abuja, that government was aiming to have about 10, 000 primary healthcare centres across the country, calling on partners to come on board to ensure that every life counts.

Speaking too, wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, pledged to support stakeholders to contribute to the accelerated reduction in ending preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths.

She noted: “Scientific evidence has shown that access to family planning services can reduce the maternal death by about 30%.”

Represented by the Founder of The Wellbeing Foundation Africa and wife of the Senate President, Mrs. Toyin Saraki, she noted, “Universal access to family planning is a human right, critical to gender equality and women’s empowerment, and a key factor in reducing poverty. Family planning also has proven benefits to improve women’s health, child survival and HIV prevention. Similarly, improved access to modern contraception for youth increases opportunities throughout their lives, including longer education, fewer pregnancies, a later and healthier start to childbearing, and greater ability to engage in income-producing activities.”

In a related development, to create awareness on the increasing rate of violence against women and children as well as ensuring that victims get justice, Motherhood in Style Magazine is set to hold a walk tomorrow in Ikoyi.

The walk, which is tagged, ‘Mums against Violence towards Women and Children,’ is necessitated following the violent killing of two mothers; Beauty Macloed, mother of Nigerian Junior Tennis Champion, Angel Macloed and mother of four, Idongesit Udo, who were killed by the police.

According to the coordinator of the walk, Mrs. Dolapo Holmes, “Enough is enough; impunity cannot be allowed to become a mainstay in our country. We will never accept it as a norm, we must resist all forms of violence against women and children and ensuring perpetrators face the music.’’

The publisher of the magazine, Mrs. Pauline Harum said, “We’ll continue to fight the killing and raping of women and children to make and ensure perpetrators are punished so that others can be aware and desist from the crime. We have therefore decided to sign a petition, which we will forward to the Federal Government because it is time to bring perpetrators to book and bring and end to impunity in this country.”

Continuing, the Population Council Country Director said “The Council provides insight into the needs of young people and delivers solutions for some of the world’s most vulnerable youth, particularly adolescent girls, who have a higher prevalence and incidence rate than their male counterparts. We assess existing laws, policies, and program, and we measure the diversity in HIV prevalence and its effect on different subgroups of youth.

“The Council has analysed HIV in Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Uganda to determine how responsive laws, policies, and programs are to the needs of young people. It conducted the first research in India to identify the needs and risks of young people.”


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