For Immediate Release
APIN Public Health Initiatives Advances Public Health Research and Service Delivery in Nigeria, Africa
Abuja Nigeria November 30, 2016: “More research and innovative approaches to meeting people’s health related needs are required if we will turn the tide on unnecessary death and disease levels in Africa”, according to the CEO of APIN, Dr Prosper Okonkwo. He said this on Wednesday 30th November 2016 at a press briefing intimating the public on the organization’s recent name change from AIDS Prevention Initiative in Nigeria to APIN Public Health Initiatives.
Building on over 16 years of commitment and collaboration to deliver HIV/AIDS prevention and care under the then AIDS Prevention Initiative in Nigeria, “we have now expanded our scope of operations and will be known as APIN Public Health Initiatives, said Okonkwo. The reasons for this are not far-fetched. “As a family oriented public health organization, we have repositioned to bring our expertise, commitment and unique organizational competencies to bear on all matters that affect the health of the individual within a family setting. This is in line with our vision of reduced disease burden and impact mitigation in Nigeria and Africa,” he added.
APIN is one of the pioneers of Nigeria HIV/AIDS response with key achievements in major public health institutions and laboratories across the country, and have attained the position of one of the foremost Nigerian organizations in the provision of prevention, care and treatment services to patients with HIV/AIDS. Our operating experience in Nigeria dates back to 2000, when the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) initiated HIV/AIDS research and prevention initiatives in Nigeria, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2004, the HSPH project started implementing HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment programs with support from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). These activities culminated in the establishment of APIN as an independent NGO in 2007, with the aim of building local capacity and sustainability of HIV/AIDS and other diseases programming in Nigeria. Presently, we have earned a growing confidence of the USG having built enough systems to operate as an independent implementing partner of US funds.
Before the United States Government (USG) rationalization program in 2012, APIN provided HIV services to over 150,000 HIV infected children and adults in 10 states (Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Plateau, Kaduna, Benue, Borno, Yobe, Enugu and Ebonyi). “We currently support the Federal Government of Nigeria to provide HIV prevention, care and treatment services directly as a USG implementing partner to more than 74,000 patients in 10 tertiary treatment clinics, 27 secondary facilities and 225 primary healthcare centers in Lagos, Oyo and Plateau states, Okonkwo asserts.
At each of these facilities, “we provide technical support to health care workers for the diagnosis and management of HIV positive adults and children according to the national guidelines and international best practices. These facilities have also been upgraded and supported with state-of-the-art data management systems and laboratories capabilities for diagnosis and monitoring of HIV, including CD4, viral load, DNA PCR and drug resistance monitoring (DRM). Similar giant strides have been made in systems strengthening, as well as in human and infrastructure capacity development.
In addition to its PEPFAR grants, it has been a sub- recipient of the global fund grant for over 5 years, providing M&E technical support to a consortium of Nigeria and US based medical schools on a medical education improvement initiative in Nigeria.
APIN Public Health Initiatives will now provide cutting edge, innovative & sustainable approaches to address other major areas of public health importance such as Tuberculosis; Malaria; Reproductive Health; Family Planning; Maternal, Newborn and Child Health through effective program management, service delivery, capacity building, research, strategic information & advocacy in partnership with other stakeholders.
As a first step, we will be building on our widespread network of service providers, communities, researchers and PLHIV support groups across the country and in the United States to contribute our quota to what other stakeholders are doing in TB control, which is now truly a global health emergency. According to WHO, there were an estimated 10.4 million new TB cases worldwide in 2015, with an estimated 1.4 million TB deaths. Nigeria is among six countries in the world that accounted for 60% of the new cases in 2015. We are uniquely positioned for this as we are able to rapidly build on our experience of managing HIV and TB co-infected patients in hospital and community settings over the years.
Adolescents, especially females, are now classified as a vulnerable population in the control of HIV transmission, and they require sensitive and culturally acceptable services that meet their holistic needs to help them stay HIV free. We know from our experience of supporting adolescent friendly HIV clinics how best to reach out to them, and we will be leveraging on this experience as we launch into full scale sexual and reproductive health programming.
Public health is evidence based, and the ability to combine research findings with evidence from the front line of implementation sets APIN apart from its contemporaries. Data from our in-house electronic medical records have been used to inform policies on choice of drug combinations for HIV positive patients at the national level and continue to support many academics to do sophisticated research in Nigeria and abroad.