By; ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna.
Kaduna State Government has expressed its readiness to continue the sponsorship of the Adolescents and Young People (AYP), HIV/AIDS programme which was initiated and Kickstarted eighteen months ago by Society for Family Health (SFH) sponsored by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The programme which was piloted in Jama’a and Jaba Local Government Areas of Kaduna State, Nigeria, was service delivery and prevention programme, aimed at ensuring that the proportion of AYPs that have been tested and know their HIV status and are accessing appropriate services is increased by 25% in the two LGAs.
Speaking at the official close out of the programme, which will see UNICEF handing off and the state government taking over sponsorship of it, the state commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr. Paul Dogo, reinstates government commitment to continue the programme.
According to the Commissioner who spoke through the Executive Secretary, Kaduna State AIDS Control Agency (KADSACA), Dr. Haliru Musa, said “we have actually considered the sustainability issue, and we have factored some of this things in the 2016 budget and we are trying to capture it in the state development plan that will give rise to the state implementation plan for 2017, 2018 and 2019.
“So what we are trying to do now is look at the lessons learned from this pilot programme and incorporate them into the 2017 Kaduna state budget. The state under the leadership of governor El-Rufai has been very supportive of HIV/AIDS programme in the state. So we are looking at the key elements of the AYP project and trying to sustain them even beyond 2017, 2018.”
He revealed that the state will soon embark on a state indicator survey which will help determine the actual HIV/AIDS prevalence in the state, adding that prevalence in the state is lower than what is currently being quoted as figures for the state.
On his part, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF, Kaduna, Utpal Moitra, noted that the importance of the project is to do more work on HIV prevention for AYPs in the state.
“In terms of what the project is supposed to achieve, it has achieved more than the target, it has raised the issue of AYPs, globally more numbers of adolescence are dying because of AIDS.
“So from this perspective, I will say it has been a good journey, it has raised the ranks and it has brought the state to start thinking of how to spread the lessons from these two LGAs to the rest of the LGAs in the state.” He said.
Also speaking, Dr. Idris Baba, HIV/AIDS Specialist, UNICEF Kaduna field office, said, UNICEF has been able to get the state committed by ensuring it was made part of implementation plan, which is now a costed activity under the government funding mechanism.
“From the result, you see that it was a success, our target was to counsel and test forty thousand AYPs for HIV and we were able to test about a hundred and fifty percent of that target, the same thing with those we were to reach with comprehensive information and our target was hundred thousand and we were able to reach a hundred and seventy thousand.
“For us that is quite a huge success and if you look at our community engagement, how we were also able to carry the community along, the kind of support we got from the community, it is overwhelming and we want to believe that it is a very successful programme.” Baba empathized.