It started engaging with indigenous organizations in supported countries as part of its strategy to reach more people with lifesaving services and in 2008 it funded a local NGO, AIDS Prevention Initiative in Nigeria (APIN) through the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), Nigeria to provide these services.
APIN presented its scorecard after 5 years of project implementation to stakeholders including the Director of Public Health at the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Bridget Okogbuale, representatives of CDC Nigeria, commissioners of health from some of the 10 states it supported, Permanent Secretaries for Health and Chief Medical Directors of supported teaching hospitals among others in Abuja on October 25, 2013.
The final project dissemination meeting was preceded by a 2-day scientific conference titled: Integrating Research into Service Delivery: The Gains, Challenges and Opportunities, which brought together researchers, health care workers, programme implementers and funding agencies including government to discuss issues of regional public health importance and shared scientific output from purely implementation programmes. The keynote address titled: ‘The Experience of a Clinician, Program Manager and Policy Maker with The Nigerian HIV Response: Two Decades of Transformation of Hope’ was delivered by Prof John Idoko, Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS. The Country Director of CDC Nigeria, Dr Okey Nwanyanwu chaired the session on anti-retroviral treatment and care for adults and children.
APIN contributed to the achievement of PEPFAR II goals in Nigeria by supporting the provision of HIV services at 55 comprehensive ART sites, 76 PMTCT sites and 43 DOTS centres. It also worked with 28 Community Based Organizations to provide care and treatment to HIV infected clients and their families. During the five-year project, it reached over 800,000 individuals with counselling and testing so they can know their HIV status and provided anti-retroviral drugs to over 75,000 individuals. With the funding it received, it established state-of-the-art laboratories in over 50 hospitals and played a major role in HIV laboratory support in Nigeria. It supported 82% of the viral load facilities and 75% of the laboratories with drug resistance monitoring capability in the country. The project also trained 3,247 health care workers to provide high quality HIV services in the country.
The systems put in place to achieve these included a robust logistics management system, which that ensured that supported hospitals did not experience any drug stock-out during the 5 year period, an electronic patient record management system which allowed health care workers access to all of the clients’ care history even when they transfer from one hospital to another, collaboration with community-based organizations(CBOs) to create awareness and demand for HIV services and reach orphans and vulnerable children within the communities with care. Strong partnership with government and other institution owners was also singled out as a critical strategy for successful project implementation. Dr Yewande Adeshina; Special Adviser on Public Health to the Lagos State Government joined Dr Ibrahim Kida, representative of the Borno State Commissioner for Health and other stakeholders to commend APIN’s collaboration with state governments on the HIV response.
Speaking at the event, APIN’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Prosper Okonkwo thanked all stakeholders for their support, especially CDC for the confidence reposed in the organization as the first Nigerian organization to be given a five-year award by CDC in Nigeria. He also stated that CDC has awarded another five-year grant to the organization to continue its work. This was further reiterated by Dr Jerry Gwamna who represented the CDC Country Director at the meeting, saying that CDC was very proud of what the organization has done.
Sharing the lessons learnt during project implementation, Dr Jay Osi-Samuels APIN’s Associate Director for Laboratory Services, stated that the project model of training hospital staff rather than posting APIN staff to work on site has increased the pool of qualified health care workers across all supported facilities and states and that it is a strategy for sustainability of HIV services in the country. He also described infrastructural development at supported facilities as one of the critical factors for successful project implementation as most health facilities suffered from chronic under investment at the beginning of the project. Quality management of laboratory services, clinical care and data management instituted at all supported sites also ensured that clients received the best services possible even as the project rapidly scaled up services to hard-to-reach areas in host states such as areas affected by civil unrest in Borno state. The scale-up of ART services has reduced the financial and logistics burden of accessing drugs on patients who live in these areas, some of which are only accessible by ferries or have unmotorable roads during the rainy season.
Prof Ibironke Akinsete, a member of the APIN Board of Trustees and pioneer Director-General of NACA commended the organization’s management for its stewardship of project funds and charged all stakeholders to continue to support the organization not just on its CDC funded grants but also on its other projects, including the Global Fund HIV Care and Treatment project.