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Global Fund to up HIV, TB service in Nigeria

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By Usman Oladimeji

219 individuals per 100,000 in Nigeria are infected with tuberculosis.

In a recent interview, Dr. Aderonke Agbaje, the Director of Special Projects at the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN), discussed the challenges posed by tuberculosis in Nigeria. She also highlighted IHVN’s role in implementing the latest Global Fund Grant Cycle 7 (GC7) to combat AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria and also outlined IHVN’s strategy for integrating TB-HIV services to address these diseases effectively. Recent data indicates that tuberculosis (TB) is prevalent among 219 individuals per 100,000 in Nigeria, with the potential for each infected person to spread the disease to 12-14 close contacts within a year.

Agbaje detailed that the GC7 grant aims to expand TB and Prevention of Mother to Child Transmissions (PMTCT) services to 36 federation states including the FCT, enhance HIV services in four states, and boost malaria services in 13 states. The goal of this initiative is to improve the delivery of TB and HIV healthcare to Nigerians, with a focus on the private sector and community settings. The integration grant will encompass a range of health services beyond just the essentials. A significant aspect of this grant is its nationwide provision of both TB and HIV services for the first time ever. Each state will receive assistance in offering basic TB and HIV services within local communities.

The grant is focused on preventative measures.

One key aspect of this grant that she mentioned is its focus on preventative measures. Instead of passively waiting for individuals to develop diseases, we are actively strategizing ways to prevent them from occurring in the first place, she said. By implementing prevention interventions, we can decrease the incidence of illness and lower the resources needed to treat these diseases. Thus, a robust and dynamic workforce would emerge, exhibiting enhanced health and productivity. She emphasized the wide-ranging collaboration involved in guaranteeing the effectiveness of the grant, spanning from federal initiatives to local community efforts. The partnership overseeing the TB-HIV integration grant spearheaded by IHVN is characterized by its diversity.

IHVN will be collaborating with a total of 12 partners to execute this grant, starting from the grassroots with volunteers and community-based organizations, all the way up to local government health providers and state-level sub-recipients. These partners are spread out across all 36 states and the FCT. Dr. Agbaje said IHVN’s partners extend to various community-based organizations, civil society groups, and government entities at every level. When asked if accountability measures are in place, she confirmed that there are measures in place to ensure funds are used wisely by starting at the community level, where accountability is demanded by community members and civil society.

Accountability is held for the standard of services provided.

Within the community, there is a system of monitoring that is led by the community itself. This system operates nationwide and is supported by the TB network, made up of various TB civil society organizations (TBN), the Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN), and the Civil Society for Malaria Control, Immunization, and Nutrition (ACOMIN). On the state level, integration efforts are managed by the Directorate of Public Health. Accountability for the standard of services provided in this project will be upheld from the state’s top tier all the way to the commissioner of health and the governor.

Furthermore, the Global Fund’s Country Coordinating Mechanism plays a crucial role in ensuring accountability in service provision, data quality, decision-making, and fund monitoring. Its diverse components are integral to maintaining transparency and effectiveness in the allocation and utilization of resources for the designed healthcare initiatives. Global Fund relies on multiple assurance providers to ensure accountability and transparency across the many layers and levels of implementation. It is imperative for them to demonstrate that resources are being utilized efficiently, she added.

Related Article: The Ending Of Tuberculosis In Nigeria

When asked to advise Nigerians on the issues of TB, Malaria, and HIV, she encouraged the people to prioritize their health. By working together with donors and the Nigerian government, she said IHVN is actively spreading vital information and educating the public on the warning signs and symptoms to look out for. She said government efforts are focused on expanding hospital resources across both public and private sectors to ensure access to medical care for Nigerians nationwide. Working in partnership with donors, the government has made essential services like TB, HIV, and malaria treatment free of charge for all citizens. Thus, she urged Nigerians to make use of these services whenever necessary.

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