By: Mayen Etim
KADUNA, North-West, Nigeria – Beneficiaries of the Adolescents and Young Persons, (AYP) intervention programme on HIV in Lere Local Government Area, one of the seven LGAs including; Jema’a, Jaba, Kagarko, Igabi, Chikun and Birnin-Gwari, of Kaduna State, has called on the State Government to inject more manpower in order to sustain the program.
A visit by Daily News Precise to the LGA recently to ascertain the impact of the programme in the area showed that it was a success story as testified by the people, comprising of youth including pregnant women.
At Payo Community, Dan-Alhaji Ward 1: Samaila Usman, a 25-year old graduate of School of Health Sciences, Funtua – Katsina state, said the closest Primary Health Care, (PHC) facility where HIV services are provided is just a three kilometers trek from his home. He said that the AYP programme has enabled him and his peers to access the services.
According to him, one of the benefits of the services is the counseling that broke the myths and suspicion surrounding HIV and this has added to his knowledge of the disease. He disclosed that he is involved in the AYP programme in his community as a Demand Creator.
A 20-year old housewife, Nafisa Kabir, who said she knew about her status at age 17 while in secondary school in 2016, added that the distance from her home to the nearest PHC facility is trekable.
“I was counseled before test, and was satisfied with the services provided. At the counseling, I got to know how to protect myself from sharp objects, sexual transmitted diseases (STD) and not to borrow sharp objects from friends. This greatly increased my knowledge of HIV and its modes of transmission,” she said.
She called for sustainability of the programme as a Demand Creator, saying “I am very happy about this programme as it has made me bold, and able to take the message to my peers who have never heard about it and were yet to be tested. Today they have all gone for their HIV test and are happy as well.”
AYP Tester, Umar Dauda, in Dan-Alhaji Ward, explained that the maximum number of clients they are supposed to attend to for the twice a week activity was 15 per day, but as at the time our Reporter visited the Ward a total number of 24 clients were already attended to and still counting.
He attributed the increase to the popularity of the Ward, and the awareness already created by AYP Demand Creators in the community which has made lots of youth to willingly submit themselves for HIV test.
An expectant mother, from Ligada community, Mrs. Naomi Ephraim, said it takes her three hours to get to the nearest healthcare facility situated in Dan-Alhaji Ward 1 by motor. She mentioned services provided at the facility for pregnant women to include, blood test, weighing, palpation, BP, Urine test after which drugs are issued to them.
Mrs. Ephraim, said she enjoyed the HIV services provided at the Centre, adding that even before this Reporter’s visit she had been at the facility in order to know her status.
She wants government to provide Scanning machine and a surgeon at the Centre, and disclosed further that she is involved in HIV activity in her local church, as a member of ‘Zumunta’ Women Fellowship where women are enlightened about HIV, antenatal, hand washing, personal hygiene among others.
At Lere Community, Lere Ward: Another Demand Creator, 24- year old Nasir Zachary, a student of Bauchi State Polytechnic, said the distance between the health facility to his home is about nine kilometers, and is easy for him to access the Centre since he is mobile.
Zachary who said he got to know his HIV status in 2018, said the services he received when he was counseled enabled him acquire more knowledge on HIV, and, armed with these information he is a very happy man today.
In a separate call the AYP Demand Creators have words of advice for the youth in the area. Zachary said youth should make sure that they were tested to know their status because knowing this will give them confidence and make them happy to pursue their life goals without tears.
He said the AYP programme really armed the youth with information about life generally not just HIV, but the youth are now more careful, in fact, have reduced their sexual escapades.
Similarly, Samira Garba, cautioned fellow girls particularly those who are in the habit of scaling windows or fence at night to avoid being caught by their parents in an attempt to go and enjoy themselves, to make sure they guard against any form of diseases by insisting they and their partner used condoms.
Speaking on the challenges facing the programme, the Local Government Action Committee on AIDS, (LACA), Coordinator in the LGA, Ibrahim Mohammed, identified manpower as part of the challenges affecting the drive to effectively reach high percentage of young people in the area. He however, commended UNICEF and the State Government for the program, saying it has increased awareness on the need to go for HIV test among the populace especially the youth.
According to Mohammed, apart from the challenge of shortage of manpower, there is also the issue of identity for Demand Creators who are embarrassed by people in the course of their duty wanting to know who they are , adding that items like ID Card, Aprons, T-shirts, Faze caps, Banners, Tables, Chairs, Umbrellas are needed to serve as identifications and working tools for them to avoid the embarrassments.
“We have made our requests known to government at every meetings, and we are told our requests would be met soonest, but as I speak we are yet to receive anything. We hope that government would look into this issue,” Mohammed said.