By James Ezema
The Health Initiative For Safety And Stability In Africa (HIFASS) and beneficiaries of Local Partners for Orphans and Vulnerable Children Project in Nigeria, tagged LOPIN 3 project, have commended the United States government and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for their collaborative support in tackling health issues in Nigeria under the project in the last five years.
Former Nigeria’s Minister of Defence and the HIFASS President, Roland Oritsejafor made the commendation in his opening remarks at the LOPIN 3 national dissemination and closing ceremony held in Abuja on Wednesday.
He then used the opportunity to appreciate and commend the government and people of United State of America “for the proactive leadership role they are playing on global, human and environmental developments, promoting peace and stability worldwide.
“Our cherished relationship with the US government has helped us tremendously to achieve more in different areas of activities in the promotion of public health, strengthening of health systems and management of transitions when international partners like USDoD, USAID disengage with the goal of ensuring sustainability, quality and ownership of programmes, thereby preventing the reversal of gains already achieved.”
On the need for collaborative efforts, Mr. Oritsejafor “the successes of international collaboration in addressing health issues worldwide cannot be underestimated especially in the face of global crisis like terrorism, economic recession, climate, food scarcity, governance, pandemics, and policy inconsistency, which continuously threatens the health of populations and the planet’s survival.”
He noted that “HIFASS is totally committed to a collaborative vision hence its motto ‘passion and partnership’ as it is very crucial for all nations, politicians, health professionals, researchers, to come together to confront current and ever emerging global challenges especially in the area of health, ensuring more access of the general populace without compromising best practices as well as contributing to global health diplomacy.”
Speaking on Strategic Integration of Nigeria Military HIV/AIDS Response (SINM-HAR), Mr. Oritsejafor noted that September 30, 2018 marked the final day of the Strategic Integration of Nigeria Military HIV/AIDS Response (SINM-HAR) project that lasted five years (2013-2018).
The project SINM-HAR was a structured comprehensive HIV/AIDS technical support program aimed at increasing access, improving quality and transitioning towards fully Nigerian owned sustainable services in the Nigeria Military.
Enumerating many lessons and achievements, he disclosed that “HIFASS supported key areas of HIV/AIDS services in the military under the SINMHAR project which were; Basic Health Care and Support (HBHC), Laboratory infrastructure (HLAB), Health System Strengthening (OHSS), ARV drugs (HTXD), Adult Treatment (HTXS), HIV Counselling and Testing (HVCT), and Strategic Information (HVSI).
“However, in order to ensure sustainability of the services provided, a steering committee was set up in November 2017 and suitability strategies were developed.
The key project achievements, include training of over 300 staff on HIV comprehensive care and over than 28646 clients on ART treatment.
HIFASS also established well-equipped laboratories including two reference laboratories, with a total of eight hundred and forty eight (848) HIV Exposed Infants and three hundred and sixty four (364) PMTCT made into the HIT System within the period under review which ended on the 30th September 2018.
Also, about half a million people have received quality treatment, counseling and testing through this program and 80% of them are civilians who live in communities surrounding the program facilities, transitioning of 69 staff to Henry Jackson Foundation for the advancement of Military Medicine, and throughout the life of the project, advocacy visits were carried out to Government of Nigeria (Nigerian Ministry of Defense) and military hospital Commanders to commit resources to ownership and support sustainability of the Military HIV program.
Through USAID HIFASS-LOPIN 3 project, HIFASS has also provided OVC comprehensive services, making HIFASS one of the leading non-governmental organizations in Nigeria improving the welfare of OVCs infected or affected by HIV/AID by strengthening households to better carter to the needs of children under their wards.
HIFASS is an active member of national and state OVC technical working group and has participated in improvement of OVC tools and a member of the team that reviewed OVC indicators. Since her involvement in OVC programming in 2014 HIFASS has provided services to thousands OVC between 2014 and 2019 in five states.
“In the past 5 years, HIFASS has succeeded in building capacity of 18 Civil Society Organisations and 3 states Ministries of Women Affairs in data reporting NOMIS and use of data for decision making.
“HIFASS’ technical expertise in OVC has developed rapidly and OVC capability is firmly institutionalised in the organisation. HIFASS has been a forerunner in gender and adolescent girls’ activities including HIV prevention, data management, empowerment and system strengthening at community, LGA and state levels”, Oritsejafor said.