USAID launches new activity to support children orphaned or made vulnerable to HIV in Lagos

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By Joy Odor

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Deputy Office Director for HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis Helina Meri joined Lagos State First Lady Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu at the launch of a new activity designed to protect children and their households made vulnerable or orphaned by HIV and AIDS in Nigeria’s Lagos State to fight the epidemic across the country.

The activity was recently launched in Adamawa and Bauchi states as well.

The four activities under the five-year, $64 million Integrated Child Health and Social Services Award (ICHSSA) will work to protect more than 450,000 Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) in a total of 10 states.

In Lagos, ICHSSA Region 2 (ICHSSA 2) will provide services to children and adolescents living with HIV/AIDS as well as protect young people who are at high risk of acquiring HIV.

ICHSSA 2 will also help young people protect themselves from gender-based violence and engage community members to reduce HIV related stigma and harmful cultural practices that endanger children.

“This activity will not only protect young people from the stigma of HIV, but also help eliminate the perception of people living with HIV as being anything less than vibrant and productive,” Ms. Meri said.

“It will help young people suffering hardships live more fulfilling lives by providing access to health, education, economic stability, safety and protection services.”

Over the next five years, the Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH) will implement ICHSSA 2 in concert with other indigenous non-governmental and governmental organizations in Lagos and Edo states to provide HIV prevention, treatment, protection, and care and support services to more than 105,000 vulnerable children and their caregivers.

Local community-based organizations are key stakeholders in the activity, and will receive capacity building to deliver high quality services directly to beneficiary households.

Trained community case workers will focus on strengthening families, communities, government systems, and civic institutions that care for HIV infected, affected, and at risk OVC and adolescents, and help teens stay healthy, stay in school, and lead safe and stable lives.

ICHSSA 2 will build on the successes of other past and present USAID investments in partnership with local Nigerian organizations and state governments to continue support to OVC and will help further solidify USAID’s relationship with state counterparts.

“We are delighted that the ICHSSA 2 project, which promotes the wellbeing of vulnerable children, is being implemented in Lagos,” Dr. Ibironke Sanwo-Olu, the state’s First Lady said at the launch. “We appreciate USAID for this partnership.”

Other states where ICHSSA operates include Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Cross River, Edo, Niger, Taraba, Bayelsa and Kano. USAID delivers comprehensive HIV treatment services to over 500,000 Nigerians and provides medicines to treat over 1.5 million Nigerians living with HIV.

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