The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) Debt Relief Gain (DRG) – Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Project 2014, supported by the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on the MDGs, contributed to the national response to HIV/AIDS and MDGs in 2014 by consolidating on the activities and strategies carried out in 201 designed to deliver HIV prevention to Nigerians through the combination prevention approach.

The project provided indigent Nigerians in rural communities across the country the opportunity to know their HIV status, which is the entry point to all HIV/AIDS interventions. The double dividend of delivering HIV Counselling and testing through Integrated Multi-Disease outreaches emphasized the ‘emergence’ of HIV infection as a chronic disease alongside the screening, diagnosis and management of other chronic diseases like Hypertension, Diabetes and Obesity (MDG 6).

During the 2014 project, interventions targeted at vulnerable women and PLHIV delivered poverty alleviation interventions (MDG 3 and 5) were prioritized. This holistic package has rehabilitated and empowered women of reproductive age who are at risk of contracting HIV or suffering the effects of the diagnosis.

Organizations that had benefited from capacity strengthening in the past, in the spirit of continuity, were tasked with delivering value for the local communities where they have been in operation. Emphasis has remained on ramping up demand creation for antenatal services and accelerated access to HIV Counseling and Testing (HCT) in the ANC setting and linkage to Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission (PMTCT) services in states with high HIV/AIDS burden.

Throughout implementation of the project, synergies and partnerships were created between disease programs; state, community actors and implementing partners at various levels; high level advocacy achieved by interfacing with key stakeholders and community gate keepers. The project directly impacted positively the lives of Nigerians particularly the underserved and vulnerable groups in rural communities across Nigeria.

The specific achievements of the project during the 2014 fiscal year are summarized below.

  • 240 PLHIV and vulberable women graduated from training in Income Generation Activities held at Abuja and Kaduna. These women were trained in bead making, fashion designing, knitting, catering, soap making and hairdressing. They all received start-up grants and equipment to commence business.
  • 45,000 Nigerians were counselled tested and received their HIV test results in rural and sub-urban communities in 13 states of the Federation during Integrated Multi-Disease campaigns.
  • 50,000 Nigerians received free screening for Hypertension, Diabetes and Obesity.
  • Commodities distributed during outreaches included 20,500 Bednets, 300,000 Aquatabs, over 1500 bars of soap, 48,000 condoms.
  • 30,000 HIV prevention Information, Education and Communication Materials and Stickers on HCT, PMTCT and safe sexual practices
  • 15 Local Government Areas in 13 states sensitized with HIV/AIDS prevention messages through high-level advocacy to community gatekeepers, LGA officials and local opinion leaders.
  • A client database of over 50,000 Nigerians who have received HIV Counselling and Testing in 13 states of the Federation.
  • The 8 CBO’s are carrying community mobilization and demand creation for PMTCT and other youth focused activities. 100 HCW already trained to provide these services. Those with capacity have been mobilized to carry out HCT.
  • 66 HIV positive women linked to PMTCT services in  6 states
  • Completion a Technical Report on the Transport Corridor Project titled ‘A Summary of Structural and Individual Factors driving HIV along key Transport Corridors in Nigeria’.
  • Finalized the process of message development for PMTCT messaging for Radio and Television; field-testing and pre – production processes completed.
  • 1800 Nigerian workers have been reached with HCT in Benue State, activities are ongoing in Kogi, Ogun, Ondo and Imo states through partnership with the Nigerian Labour Congress. 45 PLHIV identified and linked to Care.
  • A National symposium is scheduled for April 2015 to showcase all these activities undertaken by the MDG in 2013 and 2014.

The extremely late and partial release of funds clearly hampered the success of the project. It limited the ability to commence project implementation. Furthermore, the incomplete release of the designated funds also resulted in the inability to carry out all the scheduled activities. Ongoing user charges and incessant health worker strikes have eroded the confidence of women mobilized to access ANC and PMTCT services in Public Health facilities. For those who eventually attended the public facilities, user fees and compulsory payment for consumables/commodities by pregnant women in some facilities result in exorbitant out of pocket costs which deters them from accessing Antenatal services. Despite these challenges, the project recorded notable achievement as depicted by data presented above.