The Federal Government has said the integration of HIV and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), would bring Nigeria much closer to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), and Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Special Adviser to the President on Health, Dr. Salma Anas-Kolo who made this known at the maiden edition of the annual APIN Public Health Initiatives Symposium with the theme, ” Integrating Non-communicable Diseases and HIV to Ensure Long and Quality Lives for Persons Living with HIV (PLWHIV) in Abuja, said the integration would help reduce the burden of NCDs among Nigerians.
According to her, the integration of HIV and NCDs was a welcome development as people living with HIV were predisposed to other NCDs which was currently high in Nigeria due to several factors including sedentary life styles and effects of the antiretroviral drugs.
She said: “HIV infection may increase the risk of non communicable disease. We also acknowledge that with HIV infection, it is the worst. The burden is much more worse than what we’ve seen in the normal scenario.
.., due to inflammatory markers that have and also some adverse effects of the drugs the until Trevelyan medicines use. The risk is also compounded by other risk factors that exist such as consumption of tuberculosis and harmful use of alcohol and sedentary life. I think all have been mentioned. So this integration initiative is out. It is very timely. It is happening at the right time.
“Therefore, APIN’s initiative in this regard is novel and commendable. It has high potential to help Nigeria come closer to attainment of the SDG and Universal Health care coverage and it’s so driven to help us to reduce the burden of non communicable diseases among Nigerians.”
Anas-Kolo emphasized the need for meaningful stakeholder collaboration and partnership, a design and roll out of the integration initiative especially at the subnational level, by linking up the primary health care level, secondary level of care and the tertiary level of care as one delivery approach
“The national level our main responsibility is to advocate mobilize and also develop policies around issues. But the key implementation resource is at the sub national level and I want to encourage us to do more in the area of stakeholder engagement at the sub national level.
The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof Muhammad Ali Pate, gave assurances of addressing the double burden of NCDs and HIV in the country.
Represented by Director of Public Health in the ministry, Dr Anyaike Chukwuma, he outlined a four-point agenda which emphasized a holistic approach to governance, capacity development, health system strengthening, and financial measures, even as he stressed the importance of collective engagement and expert contributions to ensure a healthier and higher-quality life for PLHIV in the country.
Board Chairman APIN Public Health Initiative, Dr. Ayodeji Odutolu who raised concerns about stigmatisation in treatment and care of PLWHIV in Nigeria, said it was important to save more lives especially PLWHIV’s who were combating other diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer etc.
“We have been treating these various diseases in silos, HIV alone all the time. The emphasis is that the focus should be person and not disease so, our treatment programmes, prevention treatment, and care of non communicable diseases and HIV should get together because it’s the same person that we are looking at.”
The CEO, APIN Public Health initiatives, Dr. Prosper Okonkwo, said it’s commitment to quality HIV programming has continuously evolved to address the health priorities of its clients.
“APIN is uniquely positioned to leverage it’s robust resources; dedicated workforce, dynamic data management systems, care innovations like AVIVA app for cervical cancer, ensure optimal quality of life and healthy aging regardless of co-morbid conditions.”