UNICEF REITERATES ITS COMMITMENT TO STAMPING OUT HIV IN AYP
….. Partners Media on Way Forward
Zainab –Tanimu Kaduna, NIGERIA
Globally, AIDS related death is said to be declining for all age group except that of the adolescent which has been on the increase.
Worried over this trend, The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF ) has reiterated its commitment to assisting the government in confronting the problem of Adolescents and Young Persons (AYP) in Nigeria. It is supporting the Kaduna state government with intervention programmes that could help in the realization of the 90:90:90 target by 2030.
This was revealed by the officer in charge, UNICEF kaduna field office Dr. Idris Baba in his presentation Titled, Adolescent and Young People Intervention” during a one day workshop at SLEEPRITE hotel in Zaria where over 50 media practitioners made up of Online Publishers, Media Executives, Reporters and Producers within Kaduna state were brought together to rub minds on issues concerning the Adolescents and Young Persons in our society.
While speaking, he said the Adolescents and young people form 33% of Nigeria’s population. They are vulnerable to HIV/AIDS infection. According to him, those who bear the higher burden are the female AYPs who are between the ages of 20-24years old owing to some prevailing circumstances that surround them.
Some of the reasons identified as to why it is prevalence among the AYPs are, having of multiple sex partners, non-accessibility to facilities, the low usage of condom including that of ignorance as regards the HIV disease itself. Access to information thus becomes very paramount in order not to be misinformed.
It is in the light of finding solution to this worrisome situation that the UNICEF decided to put some intervention programme in place as “2018 would be a new year. UNICEF he said is coming in full swing in addressing issues of AYPs.
According to Dr. Idris, the intervention programme covers 7 Local Government Areas of Kaduna state. Namely, Lere, Jema’a, Chikun, Birni Gwari, Jaba, Igabi and Kagarko.
UNICEF he disclosed had budgeted about N200 million to run the adolescent and young persons (AYP) programme in these selected LGAs. Hoping that it would meet the objective of raising the AYPs access to HIV testing from 20 to 40 percent by the end of the intervention programme in May 2018, and increase condom usage among adolescents from 30 to 50 percent in the seven local areas as targeted.
The officer added that flash points are identified by UNICEF service providers as strategies towards enhancing their outreach to the AYPs while discussions are held on a friendly note. Such flash points include jungles, bars, snookers and table tennis joints, football fields including tea joints (mai shayi). These he explained are some areas where these AYPs are readily found.
According to him, at the beginning of the intervention exercise in March only seven percent of the adolescents surveyed were tested and received their HIV result. And that hopefully, 90 percent is expected to be tested and placed on antiretroviral drugs by the year 2030.
For the successful implementation of the intervention progrmme, UNICEF he said has trained 160 YFHS providers, ( 2 persons per Ward) trained 468 AYPs volunteers and 700 Teachers from 350 schools in FLHE delivery.
In terms of challenges, finding has shown that more male make use of condom and that most parents deny its use.
Other challenge includes that of the AYPs not wanting to open up particularly, the females. Idris is optimistic that the ‘open –friendly’ method put in place would help in addressing the issue.
“We train people on how to relate with the adolescents. Sometimes one wants to ask about certain things in the hospital but the seriousness there do not give room for such leverage. The idea is that we have to identify our hot spots”.
This open-friendly method coupled with the advocacy programme put in place, UNICEF envisages as going to yield more breakthroughs in addressing some of the militating factors”.
Dr. Farouk’s Abdullahi Chiromari’s presentation titled, understanding child protection issues in accessing care/support for Adolescents living with HIV/AIDS opens up on many issues concerning the AYPs in Nigerian.
According to the presenter from the global Advocate for Peace and Social Justice, Over 22 million people living with HIV are still not accessing antiretroviral therapy.
He explained that, “the proportions of people who do not have access to treatment are 58% in the South Africa, 64% in India and 80% in Nigeria”.
He said lack of access to antiretroviral therapy remains a cause for concern, explaining that 76% of child living with HIV/AIDS are not presently receiving HIV’s treatment.
The pointer being more on the part of the adolescent girls and women who aside the reasons of culture and norms do not avail themselves for test or treatment.
Dr. Farouk had attributed why adolescent girls and young women are lagging behind to such issues like the gender-based violence, lack of access to education, Lack of access to health services and Policies that do not reflect the needs of this group. Ensuring proper attention to these areas he sees as going to make a lot of difference.
The Media should help to influence changes. And in the cause of their reportage should respect adolescents dignity by observing some confidentiality. Policy makers he emphasized should put in place laws that would protect their rights.
One of the resource persons, a Social Media Handler, Tosin Akingbulu presenting the topic, “Scaling up Social Media Content for AYPs, to leverage Airtime and space” charged the Online publishers to assists UNICEF in realizing their set objectives as Online has a very wide outreach as well as being the fastest means of disseminating information. She enjoined them to put all the tools to maximum use to spread information.
The Communication Officer, UNICEF, Musa Rabiu earlier in his remark explained that the partnership with media practitioners has become necessary in the light of the prevailing situation the AYPs find themselves. He said they are planning towards 2018 and more attention be directed to this segment of the population which he described as very critical sector of the society.
Lamenting, he said, the neglect by the policy makers many have attributed to the reason why it is in this present state of utmost concern.
“These are the strong and agile group of the society who are engaged in some active jobs but when it comes to assigning responsibilities, they are neglected. Those between the ages of 10-24years globally are the vulnerable group. Necessary framework is needed
Rabiu enjoined the Media who he said are mirror of the society to assist in the area of findings and dissemination of information that would bring about attitudinal change in both our policy makers as well as Adolescents and young people in our various communities. He described them as key players in the realization of their goal. This segment of the population should have a place in the nation’s agenda to give them sense of belonging.
“ As media, you need to bring to light burning issues surrounding adolescents and young persons. We need to work with them to actually hear from them, get their views and let them participate in what we are doing so that they can respond. By so doing have the sense of belonging.”
In his opening remark, the Director, National Orientation Agency Kaduna had commended UNICEF’s good work in tackling issues of adolescent and the youth. He tasked the media to take a grasp of the issue by updating themselves and filing reports that can bring about change.