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HIV/AIDS AN OVERVIEW

HIV was discovered in 1984 and since then, millions of people have died from AIDS. According to the World Health Organization (2015), over 36 million people are living with the virus worldwide and several interventions have been put in place to ensure that those infected with the virus can lead normal lives.

In Nigeria, a lot of indigenous and international organizations work to ensure prevention, treatment and management services are available in both the urban and rural areas. These include services to ensure the use of Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) – a combination of drugs to ensure that the growth of the virus is prevented, slowing its progression, thereby slowing the disease. Other interventions include the formation of support groups to help patients share challenges and a lot of positive ideas.

Another wonderful intervention is the Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme which ensures that mothers do not transmit the virus to their children during pregnancy, childbirth and afterwards; thereby preserving future generations. This helps decrease morbidity and mortality due to HIV in infants.

A huge challenge is stigmatization, which makes people avoid those infected with the virus for fear of contracting same. Another is non-adherence to treatment. Sometimes patients get frustrated and as a result of inadequate funds and access to treatment centers, a lot of them give up; some others get into denial or bouts of hopelessness and stop taking their medication. Ignorance also poses a serious threat because people who lack information are prone to believe anything they are told, including the misconception that everyone with HIV/AIDS must die.

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HIFASS offical carrying out testing during the outreach in Jahi on World AIDS Day 2016

The 1st of December is a day set aside globally to remember those who have passed, show support for those living with HIV/AIDS, and create awareness on HIV prevention and for most civil societies, it serves as a way to recommitting to ending HIV/AIDS as a public health threat.  A lot of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs)and government establishments are holding rallies to support people living with HIV/AIDS and also to enlighten the general public on HIV prevention. They are also encouraging people to stop stigmatization and suggesting ways through which support can be given to people living with HIV/AIDS.

This year with theme “Hands Up for HIV Prevention,” HIFASS conducted a one day community outreach in the Jahi community (Kado Kuchi) AMAC, FCT with Health Talks, HIV Testing, and Distribution of Condoms and IEC materials. Also the HIFASS-LOPIN 3 in  conjunction with other implementing organizations like FHI 360, Mediatrix, Lafarge, Pathfinder and Heartland Alliance organised a long walk creating awareness on HIV  as well as HIV Testing in Calabar, Cross river state.

Written by: Omonefe Oisedebamen Eruotor

References- Worldaidsday.org, WHO data site(http://apps.who.int/gho/data/view.main.22100WHO), https://www.westerncape.gov.za/service/prevention-mother-child-transmission-pmtct, http://www.emtct-iatt.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Nigeria_National-PMTCT-Guidelines_2010.pdf, http://www.thebody.com/content/art6114.html

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MARIA’S TALE OF HOPE

Maria, a 36 year old Person Living Positive (PLP) widow residing in Adim Community in Biase Local Government Area of Cross River state, lost her husband with whom she had three kids and got involved with another man who promised to marry her. She had a child for the latter but he eloped, leaving her to cater for all the kids alone. With no source of income, aside the occasional N500-700 she got for weeding farmlands and four hungry mouths to feed; she began yielding to men who were interested in satisfying their sexual appetites with her in the community. Although farming and trading are the major occupations there; traditionally, women are not allowed to hold titles and are regarded as second class citizens who cannot own lands but can lease them for farming. The poverty rate is so high that like Maria, very high risk sexual activities take place among the girls, women and men especially among the widows who are regarded as free women. When her situation became unbearable, Maria had to release her fourteen year old daughter to a distant relative in Abuja for care which she cannot monitor from her location.

The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded project – Local Orphans and Vulnerable Children Partners in Nigeria- Region 3 (LOPIN3), with as the lead partner enrolled Maria’s household in 2015. During the intervention, she received HIV Testing and Counseling services where she was discovered to be positive and referred to the nearest Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC) for CD four count and further treatment. She also received training on the importance of proper healthcare like the need to sleep under insecticide treated nets, in nutrition, education, effective parenting skills, gender norms and financial literacy through the Catholic Archdiocesan Action Committee on AIDS (CAACA), a HIFASS-LOPIN 3 Community Based Organisation (CBO).

Maria by her shop

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As one of the project beneficiaries of seed grants in her community, she also received N30, 000 with which she started table trade. After about two months, Maria has this to say “Men no longer take advantage of me since I started my business, as I no longer depend on any one to provide for my family’s needs”. She now sells provisions daily and farm produce on market days.

This empowerment has boosted her self-esteem as she is able to feed, clothe, pay medical bills for and support the education of her children. In addition, along with other empowered caregivers, she was trained on Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC), they were taught to save and borrow money amongst themselves to improve their businesses.

CAACA and the HIFASS-LOPIN 3 Technical Point Person will continue to monitor and mentor Maria to see that her business keeps growing. The Community OVC Improvement Team (COIT) and Community Volunteers (CVs) are also on ground to offer necessary support to Maria and all empowered households in the community.

Disclaimer: This success story was made possible by the kind support from the American people delivered through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of Health Initiatives for Safety and Stability in Africa (HIFASS) and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of USAID or the U.S. Government.

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NIGERIA LOCAL RESOURCE MOBILIZATION SUCCESS

In line with the principles of change management which make it clear that local support is necessary for sustainable development, Local Orphans and Vulnerable Children Partners in Nigeria – Region 3 (LOPIN 3) gave technical assistance to eleven Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), currently sub-granted by the project, which is funded by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID); to apply for the MTN Foundation’s call for proposals in Cross River and Ebonyi States.

LOPIN 3 Program staff worked tirelessly to ensure their assigned CSOs completed the application process correctly and before the deadline. MTN Foundation contacted successful organizations for site inspection and their proposed sites were visited by the MTN inspection officers who saw needs that they could meet, to support the alleviation of the plight of orphans and vulnerable children in the respective states. Four out of the eleven CSOs currently sub-granted by LOPIN 3 were successful.

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Donated Items at Amankwo/Amanbolobo Orphanage, Ebonyi.

Government Secondary school, Oban (suggested by Catholic Archdiocesan Action Committee on AIDS); Buda Comprehensive Secondary School, Kakwagom (suggested by Kejie Health Foundation) and Model Primary School, Ohong (suggested by Oten-Ita Foundation), all in Cross River State, received 100 double-seater desk-chairs for students as well as 10 teacher tables and chairs. In Ebonyi state, Amankwo/Amanbolobo Orphanage Home (suggested by Destiny Daughters of Nigeria), received 1 double door fridge, 15 3×6 mattresses, 15 pillows, 4 standing fans, 8 cartons of 900 grams Milo, 8 cartons of sugar, 8 cartons of 900g Peak Powdered Milk, 2 tins of cholesterol-free vegetable oil (18kg), 3 bags of rice (50kg), 5 bags of 10kg Semovita, 8 cartons of Ariel detergent (12 units/carton), 8 cartons of laundry bar soap (B29), 8 cartons of Dettol soap (72 units/ carton), 8 cartons of Dettol disinfectant (750ml) and 8 mosquito nets.

These donations which were received through a process initiated by simple on-line applications, have helped improve educational structures and living conditions of children who are currently enrolled in the LOPIN 3 project, and have proven that there is hope for local support in our quest for sustainability.

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NIGERIA ADHERENCE INTERVENTION SUCCESS

At the tender age of 8, William (fictitious) was believed to have begun the journey to an early grave. He was no longer taken to the health care facility which is about three hours away – same facility where his parents who lost the battle against the HIV/AIDS virus registered the family to avoid stigmatization. His nutrition was poor; his frail grandma had no means of income to cater for her 5 grandchildren, all under age ten who live with her in a non-ventilated single room with thatched roof. She said she was waiting patiently for William’s death so she could allot a portion of the family compound to be dug for his burial, beside the graves of other family members who died of HIV/AIDS.
Timely intervention was provided by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded project – Local Orphans and Vulnerable Children Partners in Nigeria- Region 3 (LOPIN3), with Health Initiatives for Safety and Stability in Africa (HIFASS) as the lead partner. LOPIN3 ensured that this family did not have reason to mourn a young child, through a series of interventions. The project provided adequate psycho-social support to the family and ensured William resumed taking medication. Tests revealed that he also had tuberculosis, so treatment was initiated. He was transferred to a health facility in Calabar by Offiong Enyi, a community volunteer, and was kept for some days for proper observation and care before returning home.

Disclaimer: This success story was made possible by the kind support from the American people delivered through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of Health Initiatives for Safety and Stability in Africa (HIFASS) and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of USAID or the U.S. Government.

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MTN Foundation donates Furniture to Model Primary School Ohong, Obudu Cross River State

Since 2014, HIFASS has been funded by USAID to mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS on Orphans and Vulnerable Children in area 3- Cross River and Ebonyi States (LOPIN3). The consortium for implementing the CA is made up of HIFASS as the lead, Calabar Arch-Diocesan Action Committee on AIDS (CAACA), Catholic Diocese of Abakaliki Succour and Development Services Initiative (SUCCDEV) and People-to-People Health Foundation in Nigeria (PPHFN).

One of the strategic objectives of HIFASS LOPIN 3 project is to provide organizational capacity strengthening and technical assistance to civil society organization (CSOs).  Oten Ita foundation a CSO under the HIFASS LOPIN 3 was given adequate assistance by HIFASS LOPIN3 technical point person (TPP) to be able to successful respond to the MTN foundation proposal in October 2015.

Oten-Ita Foundation applied and their nominated primary school was selected to benefit from the MTN foundation ‘What Can We Do Together’ initiative. The initiative will support 200 communities to improve the quality of lives of vulnerable children across 200 LGAs in Nigeria.

On Wednesday March 16, 2016. 100 set of desks and chairs where handed over to Model primary school, Ohong for its pupils and 10 set of tables and chairs for the teachers. The community leaders of Uwhobikpam, Obudu Cross River State and the school received MTN foundation team with joy.

Presenting the items at Model primary school in Ohong, The Regional Technical Manager, MTN foundation, Theophilus Nnabugwu encouraged the Headmaster and his team to be committed to harnessing other available resources towards educational development.

The Head Master, Mr Ishul Innocent Agorge thanked MTN team for the kind gesture and great support to the community.

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MTN Donates Desks to Primary School In Oban, Cross River State

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Group photograph with MTN, CACCA,HIFASS and community members

Mobile telecommunication company, MTN foundation donated 100 (2) Seater desks and 10 Teachers Table and Chairs at  Government Secondary School  in Oban, Akamkpa LGA Cross River State on  Monday 14th March, 2016.

The donation of school desks and chairs to the school by MTN was as a result of the Catholic Archdiocesan Action Committee on AIDS (CAACA) Calabar responding to a call for proposal by MTN to nominate a school with Orphans and Vulnerable Children to be furnished with school equipment as part of the ‘What Can We Do Together’ initiative.

The ‘What Can We Do Together’ initiative, which was launched in September 2015 during the 10th anniversary celebration of the MTN Nigeria Foundation, aimed at giving every Nigerian the opportunity to make a difference in their local communities. Under the initiative 200 projects in 200 communities with focus on transformers, boreholes, school furniture and donation to orphanages are being implemented across Nigeria.

Also, in attendance at the ceremony were Mr Tuedon Uweja, MD HIFASS, Sis Cecelia Chukwu, ED SUCCDEV and other staff of NGOs and CSOs.

The nominator of the Secondary School, Barr. William Itorok expressed his delight and gratitude

“I wish to thank MTN Foundation for responding swiftly to our request to “Let Do It Together” in Oban Community where we have a high concentration of our Orphans and Vulnerable Children, saturated in our LOPIN3 Project in Cross River State. The LOPIN3 project is a five-year initiative to help children orphaned and made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS and their families in the states of Cross River and Ebonyi. It is a consortium that comprises HIFASS, Calabar Arch-Diocesan Action Committee on AIDS (CAACA), Catholic Diocese of Abakaliki, Succor and Development Services Initiative (SUCCDEV) and People-to-People Health Foundation in Nigeria (PPHFN) with HIFASS as the lead. The program seeks to better organize and coordinate existing structures and systems that offer care and services to orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) by providing hands-on technical assistance, this is why we felt we can do it together to assist the school give better education to these children.”

Also speaking at the ceremony was Rev. Fr. E. Bekomson, ED CAACA. He stated that ”MTN has been very wonderful, it took barely two months between writing and assessment of site and supply, may God bless you! We are thankful for LOPIN3 Regional Office and HIFASS our Prime for the constant support to CAACA. We wish MTN well and may God lead you safely back home.”

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Uchechi recovers from Malnutrition in Ebonyi State,Nigeria

Uhuotaru community, Ohaozara LGA, Ebonyi State, Nigeria, 18 September, 2015 – Uchechi runs out excitedly as she heard to sound of a vehicle arrive her home. As the team approach her compound she smiles shyly and hides runs back to her mum. Just two years old, she lives with 12 other family members in a thatched home, made of mud in a deep rural community two hours away from the city centre in Ebonyi State the eastern part of Nigeria.

Uchechi may look like any other little girl, but she is very lucky to be alive. In March 2015, she was identified as a malnourished child on the verge of dying. Her family is convinced that her recovery – facilitated by the direct intervention of LOPIN-3 project is direct help from God.

Uchechi, 1year 7 months, as she looked before receiving medical attention for the effects of malnutrition

Uchechi (1year 7 month) suffering from malnutrition in March, 2015

Uchechi is the 4th child of her mother Onyiyechi who is pregnant for her 5th child and the 9th child of her Father Chibueze Uzonwogo in order words she is born into a polygamous family. Chibueze is a well-digger and Onyiyechi the mother has no income generating activity. Uchechi and her siblings live in an overcrowded one room with her mother. From all indications, to have a meal a day is a struggle.

On Tuesday March 17, 2015, during in an outreach at Ugwulangwu autonomous community in Ohaozara LGA of Ebonyi State. Oluchi Chialuka a staff in the LOPIN-3 project drew the attention of the team to very ill child who she suspected was suffering from HIV.

Uchechi appeared pale and had no appetite; she was stunted and had rashes in her buttocks. At the outreach, she was weighed, measured and checked was her for other illnesses. Distressingly, they discovered that this little girl was battling two deadly diseases at once: diarrhoea and malnutrition. She was very weak and couldn’t walk in fact her ribs were clearly counted which was a result of severe acute malnutrition
Uchechi at 1year 7 months when she was first found

Chronic malnutrition is a common problem in Nigeria. The UNICEF study showed that malnutrition is the underlying cause of morbidity and mortality of a large proportion of children under-5 in Nigeria. It accounts for more than 50 per cent of deaths of children in this age bracket.

Uchechi’s condition was so severe that she was immediately referred to Federal Teaching Hospital (FETHA 1) Ebonyi State which is about 3-4 hours’ drive from Ugwulangwu. The clinical assessment showed Uchechi had pitting oedema sunken eyes and weight loss, weighing 6.5kg.

For two weeks, Uchechi fed on highly specialized therapeutic feeding, the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development Ebonyi State was very supportive in ensuring Uchechi received full treatment. After a critical 3 weeks Uchechi made a full recovery and returned back to her village. . Today Uchechi is visibly healthier and measured in the healthy “Green Zone. She has more hair on her head and is no longer underweight. Also LOPIN-3 provided her mother with clothing and nutrition support while in hospital including basic care needs and hygiene education.
5 months after treatment, Uchechi is now healthier and has recovered from severe malnutrition.

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Uchechi in September, 2015 fully recovered

I sincerely thank LOPIN-3 and their for their kind hearts and efforts in saving the life of my little daughter. Our heart is full of joy we lack words to express how we feel seeing our daughter healthy again.
Uchechi’s father, Mr Chibueze Uzonwogo

Disclaimer: This success story was made possible by the kind support from the American people delivered through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of Health Initiatives for Safety and Stability in Africa (HIFASS) and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of USAID or the U.S. Government.