– Shimsugh Chagbe
The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), has established six regional offices to track and monitor the progress of HIV control programmes across the country. The zonal offices will consolidate the Agency’s restructuring posture and build on the success the country has recorded during the Nigeria AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS).
Consequently, the North Central Zone team made advocacy visits to Nasarawa State AIDS Control Agency (NASACA), Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN), AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the Ministry of Health, and Dalhatu Arab Specialist Hospital (DASH) Lafia. Speaking at various meetings with the relevant stakeholders in the State, the Zonal Coordinator of the North-Central Zone, Mr. Lawrence Kwaghga, stressed that the Agency had to establish its offices in each geo-political zone to boost HIV and AIDS campaigns at the grassroots. This he said is a strategy to ensure efficient service provision and help reduce the spread of the disease by 2030.
Mr. Kwaghga stated, “With the success recorded during the Nigeria AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) last year, the opening of the zonal offices in the six geopolitical regions of Nigeria is an opportunity to bring the various interventions closer to the grassroots”. He noted that this would help close the already identified gaps and sustain the NAIIS success at the various State Agencies for the control of AIDS (SACAs). R e s p o n d i n g , N a s a r a w a S t a t e Commissioner for Health, Pharm. Ahmed Baba Yahaya commended the creation of the zonal offices across the Federation. He said Nasarawa State government has prioritized the fight against HIV/AIDS. He was optimistic that the grassroots would benefit greatly from the zonal office structure introduced by NACA. Pharmacist Baba acknowledged the need for effective collaboration at all levels to ensure a decline in the spread of the virus in the State. He assured that his office and the State Government are ready to render any support whenever the need arises. Speaking in a similar vein, the State Coordinators of IHVN, AHF, and the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of Dalhatu Arab Specialist Hospital respectively expressed appreciation about the creation of the NACA North Central Zonal Office. They stated that the Zonal Office would help boost their work in the State and provide leadership and direction to all the Implementing Partners (IPs) working in the North Central region.
It will be recalled that paragraph 2b of NACA’s (Establishment) Act, 2007, empowers the Agency to operate its principal office in the Federal Capital and such others for the proper discharge or performance of her functions as stipulated under the Act. However, the agency has continued to operate from its head office in Abuja since 2009 when the Act became operative.
However, the success of NAIIS, partly due to the functionality of decentralized structure became the stimulus for the Agency to evoke part II, section 6 (i) (h) of the Act to convert the six regional offices to zonal offices, thus bringing the Agency’s activities closer to the grassroots communities. It serves to reinforce NACA’s partnership with key players of the National response on HIV and AIDS.