Remove Healthcare Barriers In Fight Against HIV/AIDS, NGO Urge FG

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Gem-Hub Initiative, a non-governmental organization has called upon the Federal Government to work toward eliminating obstacles to healthcare services to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS.

The executive director of Gem-Hub Initiative, Mrs. Oyeyemi Pitan emphasised the necessity for continued efforts to improve access to healthcare services following the release of the 2021 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey/National Immunisation Coverage Survey (MICS/NICS) by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

While acknowledging Nigeria’s progress in raising awareness and enhancing access to HIV treatment, Pitan highlighted the persistent disparities in healthcare access that underscore the need for sustained investments in health infrastructure to effectively address HIV/AIDS and associated health challenges.

She stressed the importance of deliberate actions to remove barriers to healthcare access, especially for adolescents and young individuals, considering their diverse healthcare needs, including HIV prevention and care.

Despite increased awareness of HIV and access to antiretroviral treatment among Nigerians, gaps in healthcare access persist, particularly in rural and underserved communities, as per recent data from the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA).

To address these disparities and enhance health outcomes, Pitan called for a focus on strengthening healthcare infrastructure, disseminating HIV/AIDS education comprehensively throughout the country, and employing a multifaceted approach to improving public health in Nigeria.

Furthermore, she underscored the significance of addressing healthcare access gaps not only in combating HIV/AIDS but also in enhancing overall public health and achieving sustainable development goals.

Pitan emphasised the intertwined nature of Nigeria’s fight against HIV/AIDS with broader global initiatives aimed at ending the epidemic, highlighting the imperative of ensuring inclusivity, especially for vulnerable populations, to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

She advocated for increased government funding and international support to fortify Nigeria’s healthcare system, emphasising the need to tackle the fundamental causes of healthcare disparities to effectively combat HIV/AIDS.

Science Nigeria’s report highlighted Nigeria’s prolonged struggle with the HIV/AIDS epidemic since the 1980s, noting its impact on the country’s socio-economic fabric.

Efforts to increase awareness of HIV prevention methods and improve the accessibility of antiretroviral treatment have shown progress, albeit with existing disparities, necessitating ongoing efforts to bridge gaps in healthcare access across different regions and demographics.

The report also highlighted the exacerbation of other health issues, such as malaria, particularly among vulnerable populations like pregnant women, emphasising the complex health challenges faced in Nigeria.

Aligned with Sustainable Development Goal 3, efforts to combat HIV/AIDS aim to ensure universal health coverage, reduce disease incidence, and provide quality healthcare services, albeit challenges in achieving universal health coverage, particularly for those in extreme poverty.

Racheal Abujah
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