BY PATIENCE IVIE IHEJIRIKA, Abuja and ROYAL IBEH, Lagos
The Nigeria maiden Community-Led Monitoring (CLM) report by the Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN) has revealed that 11.2 percent (212,800) of people living with HIV (PLHIV) in the county still incur huge out-of-pocket expenditure for treatment.
The data, collected by the CLM from September to December 2020, identified stock out of HIV prevention material and treatment, user fees for HIV care, high out of pocket expense as some of the barriers to HIV services in the country.
Other barriers, according to the report are low number of health facilities, involvement of PLHIV and Key Populations ((KPs), side effect of ARV treatment, stigma, discrimination and distance to health facilities.
It also identified challenges to viral load results and interruption of service access by COVID 19 as part of the challenges.
The report showed that “Clients are concerned about confidentiality, with viral load delivery at 15.7 per cent and HIV treatment access at 4.5 per cent. Lack of confidentiality is a huge concern that creates barriers for service access.
“For affordability, out of pocket expenses stood at 11.2 per cent is a major issue creating barriers for HIV treatment access. Expenditures on viral load test 3.4 per cent creates concern.”
Speaking during the PLHIV community engagement and official launch of the Community-Led Monitoring (CLM) Report and Framework, on Wednesday in Abuja, executive director, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr. Gambo Aliyu, said “Community matters and it will continue to matter because, whatever we do and plan and whatever we deliver, we do it for the community.
“In the HIV arena, there is a saying that ‘nothing for us without us’. So, I am saying here today that nothing for the community without the community. For us to serve the community well, we need to hear from the community. We need to allow the community to see what we do and allow the community to give us feedback. We want to know how better to serve them and how satisfactory our services are.”
In her remarks, the USA Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard, said the CLM programme is the pathway to providing the healthcare needs of all HIV patients in Nigeria.
“With the CLM initiative, you will receive vital insights from communities and service beneficiaries, for improving quiet and program outcomes. So I am so glad to be part of this program that is helping us getting closer to the UN 90:90:90 goals and achieving epidemic control in Nigeria,” she said.
Executive director, UNAIDS, Winnie Byanyima, noted that the CLM is an accountability mechanism to improve service quality and increase access.
The national coordinator, NEPWHAN, Mr Abdulkadir Ibrahim, said through the routine scheme and monitoring access and quality of HIV and COVID services by members of the community, NEPWHAN believes that barriers and bottlenecks will not only be identify, but appropriate solutions will be found.