Collaboration for Disability-Inclusive HIV/AIDS Response

On April 4th, at the management board room of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), drawing key members to discuss strategies for a more inclusive HIV/AIDS response in Nigeria. Among the attendees were Barrister Catherine Edeh, Executive Manager of Voice of Disability Initiative (VDI), Dr. Edward Ogeyin, Programmes Director, Dr. Paulos Abebe, Dr. Temitope Ilori, Director-General of National Agency for the Control of AIDS and other directors of NACA.

Dr. Temitope Ilori, in her welcoming remarks, underscored the importance of collaborative efforts in addressing the challenges of HIV/AIDS. She emphasized NACA’s commitment to inclusivity and the protection of the rights of all individuals affected with the epidemic.

Following the address of Dr. Temitope Ilori, Barrister Catherine Edeh took the floor to introduce Voice of Disability Initiative, its vision and mission. VDI, a women-led non-governmental organization, advocates for the protection of the rights of women, girls, and children with disabilities in Nigeria. Edeh highlighted VDI’s core result areas, including rights advocacy, livelihood improvement, inclusive education, and gender and sexual rights.

Expressing gratitude for the warm welcome, Edeh congratulated Dr. Ilori on her new appointment and affirmed VDI’s belief in a world where sexual health is universally accessible. She stressed the importance of collaboration between VDI and NACA, citing VDI’s legal registration and its funding partnerships with organizations like the Disability Rights Fund, UN Women, and others.

Edeh humbly requested NACA’s prioritization of people with disabilities, especially women and girls, in the national HIV/AIDS response. She emphasized the need for collaboration in sensitization efforts, stigma reduction, and the protection of confidentiality. Additionally, Edeh requested test kits from NACA to facilitate HIV testing at events and large gatherings organized by VDI, ensuring accessibility for individuals, particularly women with disabilities.

The meeting concluded with a commitment from both parties to explore avenues for collaboration and to work towards a more inclusive and effective response to HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.