By Ikenna Osuoha
The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in Nigeria has commenced a novel plan to educate and empower People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in Nigeria.
This is contained in a statement signed by Mr Abdulkadir Ibrahim, National Coordinator, Network of People Living With HIV/AID in Nigeria (NEPWHAN) in Abuja on Saturday.
Ibrahim said that the initiative was a collaboration between the NEPWHAN and National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Federal Ministry of Health, under the National AIDS and STIs Control Program (NASCP).
He said the programme is solely and fully funded by PEPFAR.
“The initiative known as Patient Education and Empowerment Plan (PEEP), launched in May, was borne out of the need to properly inform PLWHA about service packages provided by the programmes and their rights within them.
“They are vulnerable to financial and human rights exploitation and discrimination by unethical service providers.
“PEEP is, therefore, designed to ensure that PLWHA, their Networks and Support Group leaders and members understand personal responsibility, know their rights and the package of care they should and could access freely,” he said.
Ibrahim said the plan would promote PLWHA’s treatment education, protect their right to health, and bestow them with skills to recognise and protect their members against rights violations and to lead advocacy initiatives of their constituents.
He further said it would set up grievance management mechanisms at facility, state and national levels to enable PLWHA’s to report, mitigate and seek redress for incidences of human rights violations, including Gender Based Violence.
He said that the training, which was an integral part of the PEEP, was aimed at supporting NEPWHAN and its constituencies.
Ibrahim said that the programme would also seek to inform and strengthen the capacity of Support Group leaders and members in three broad areas of the service packages currently supported within the National Treatment and PMTCT programmes.
He said that the training plan was jointly developed by partners, drawn from NACA, NASCP, UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNDP, WHO, NEPWHAN, Federal Ministry of Justice, National Human Rights Commission, CiHP and PEPFAR.
Ibrahim recalled that a Training of Trainers (TOT) one-week session had been conducted for leaders and members of NEPWHAN and other groups drawn from the national and regional offices in August.
“The step-down trainings for other members of the Network across the country was scheduled to hold back-to-back in 2 phases, and on regional basis for a period of one week per region.
“Phase 1, comprising North Central, South South and South East regions commenced in August, while phase two comprising South West, North West and North East zones will hold from October 2021.
“The regional trainings commenced in Abuja for the North Central region on Sept. 30, 2021, followed by the South South region on Sept. 6, 2021 in Lagos, while the South East regional training will hold in Lagos from Sept. 13 to Sept. 17, 2021,”, he said.
He said the participants at the regional training will train people at the state and Support Group levels across the country.
According to him, this is to enable members of the network receive the required education and empowerment to understand and take personal responsibility for their health.
The Coordinator expressed gratitude to PEPFAR, the country team, the Deputy National Coordinator, Dr Murphy Akpu and the DODWRPN-HJFMRI Prevention Program Manager, Dooshima Okonkwo Uganden for their support to NEWPHAN
He also appreciated other partners who have contributed as part of the PEEP success story including the Consultant, Olayide Akanni, whom he said had facilitated the entire process from the beginning.(NAN)