About 11.2 per cent of People Living With HIV (PLWHIV) in Nigeria still incur huge out-of-pocket costs for treatment, a new report has shown.
The report titled “Community-Led Monitoring (CLM) initiative on COVID-19 and HIV in Nigeria” shows that 212,800 PLWHIV in the country make significant out of pocket expenses to access treatment.
The report indicates that distance of treatment centres and out of pocket expenses are major barriers to HIV service accessibility.
“20.2 per cent of PLHIV do not have treatment centres close to where they live.”
Other barriers include side effects of HIV treatment, drug breaks, lack of confidentiality at site level, user fees for processing payments, stigmatization and discrimination amongst others.
Data for the report were collected between September and December 2020 by the Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN) with support from the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) and the UNAIDS.
About 1.9 million people under the age of 64 are living with HIV in Nigeria, results from the Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) show.
“Member states recognised that to meet the fast track targets, community responses to HIV must be scaled up and committed to at least 30 per cent of services being community-led by 2030,” the Director-General of NACA, Gambo Aliyu, said at the virtual launch of the report.
Mr Aliyu noted that the CLM Framework will serve as a guide in the implementation of the CLM initiative in Nigeria as a way of putting the community first.
“The CLM framework is key to ensuring availability, access to and the delivery of quality HIV care and services,” he said.
“It also empowers clients and communities to seek information, increases health literacy, expands engagement with health service delivery,
addresses human rights violation, stigma and discrimination and demand accountability from the health system to improve the delivery of HIV services.”
Mr Aliyu said NEPWHAN, being the patient community, was rightly selected after necessary organisational checks and processes to implement the maiden CLM initiative in Nigeria.
In her remarks, the UNAIDS Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima, said monitoring and accountability mechanism is needed to improve services and quality of delivery at the community level.
Ms Byanyima explained that the CLM initiative is a critical element in Community based result of HIV.
“This initiative will also include addressing the structural barriers that reduce access to health services and working to improve accountability in HIV programmes,” she said.
“This CLM initiative in Nigeria needs to be strengthened and supported by all our partners including ourselves.”
The National Coordinator, NEPWHAN, Ibrahim Abdulkadir, highlighted the importance of community monitoring in the fight against the disease.
Mr Abdulkadir lauded the support received from development partners in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the support from various partners made it possible for PLWHIV to access drugs and other services despite the lockdown imposed to limit spread of the COVID-19 virus.
He said the CLM report is key to monitoring the fight against HIV/AIDS as it will help to improve access to healthcare services.
The US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Leonard, said that the CLM initiative will provide vital insight from community and service beneficiaries.
This, she said, will further push Nigeria towards achieving its HIV goal by the year 2030.
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