Akoro Joseph Sewedo
In April 2011, the International Center for Advocacy on Right to Health (ICARH) a registered Nigerian non-governmental organization sets up a health clinic in response to LGBT health care service provision in Abuja.
With funding from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), ICARH collaborates with the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) with the aim to provide comprehensive sexual health care for LGBT persons in Abuja.
In a conversation with Ifeanyi Orazulike- ICARH Executive Director, he informed BTM “The project has recorded a significant success since inception. The challenges of accessing health care especially HIV/AIDS has reduced drastically within the MSM community in Abuja.”
He added “Unlike in the past when it was very difficult for MSM to access HIV and other health care services in other health facilities because of stigma and discrimination associated with homosexuality and same sex practice, they (MSM) now feel more comfortable coming to ICARH’s facility to access HIV and other health care services.”
The clinic is being managed by a team of 5 staff members of ICARH, comprising a Nurse and Case Manager, 2 Care and Support officers and 2 M&E (record) officers. In addition are two volunteer doctors from Garki Hospital who take turn to come and help out on clinic days. Of all the people working in the clinic only 2 people are being paid; the Nurse Case Manager and 1 Care and Support Officer, every other person is working voluntarily.
Speaking further with ICARH’s program officer- Kadiri Audu, he spoke of the achievements thus far “Since the inception of the clinic in April; 105 clients (MSM) have accessed HCT service, out of which 52 tested positive and 53 negative. Out of the 52 that tested positive, 47 have been enrolled in to care and 11 are on ARV.”
Furthermore he mentioned the challenges faced saying “The extension of the clinic is yet to be done and this has affected the work flow process which at times even causes distress to the clients, in addition most of the equipment provided by IHVN is yet to be operational due to lack of space which ultimately affects the quality of services provided.”
“Nutritional supplements, prophylaxis, pain killers and pain medications are inadequate, salaries for more permanent staff since most of the people working in the clinic are working on volunteer basis” Audu said.
The following services are provided at the clinic include but not limited to; HIV Counseling and Testing, provision of Anti Retroviral Drugs, palliative care and treatment of other common illness such as Malaria and Typhoid. There are plans to begin STI syndromic management soon.