Management Sciences for Health and Nigeria’s Ministry of Health Unveil National Guidelines for HIV Prevention, Treatment, and Care

 {Photo credit: Aor Ikyaabo, MSH}Representative of the Hon. Minister of Health, Mr. Arioye Segilola (right), and Dr. Zipporah Kpamor, Country Representative for MSH with other dignitaries displaying the unveiled 2016 National Guidelines on HIV/AIDS in Kaduna State, Nigeria.Photo credit: Aor Ikyaabo, MSH

On June 20, 2017, the National AIDS and STIs Control Programme of the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with Management Sciences for Health (MSH) hosted the launch of the North-West Zonal Dissemination of the 2016 National Guidelines for HIV Prevention Treatment and Care, in Kaduna State, Nigeria.

These updated guidelines formally adopt the WHO’s Test and Treat approach to treatment. They recommend the initiation of Antiretroviral Treatment (ART) in all adults, adolescents, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and children with a diagnosis of HIV, regardless of clinical stage and CD4 cell count. Prior to the launch of the guidelines, people living with HIV and AIDS in Nigeria were placed on treatment depending on their viral load, or CD4 count.

Representatives from the Ministry of Health explained that the new protocol provides the guidance that health workers need to deliver a comprehensive package of HIV services to people living with HIV and AIDs and those at high risk.

“From today onward, the Nigerian government is duty-bound to offer antiretroviral medicines as prevention to everyone who tests positive for HIV and all persons who are at high risk of contracting HIV infection,” said Minister of Health, Professor Adewole. “This applies to everyone with equal emphasis: child, man, woman, pregnant and nursing mothers.”

The dissemination of the guidelines is the culmination of collective action on developing a stable and functional system for the delivery of HIV and AIDS services in Nigeria that began in 2001. The objective of the two-day dissemination event was to achieve awareness and application of the guidelines, especially in facilities offering services to persons living with or affected by HIV and AIDS in the country’s Northwest Zone.

In her opening remarks, Dr. Zipporah Kpamor, MSH Nigeria Country Representative, said that the guideline recommendations are in keeping with MSH’s global values of excellence and quality in service delivery exemplified by MSH’s pioneering of the implementation of Option B+ in Malawi as early as 2012, and continue MSH advocacy efforts to have Option B+  fully adopted in Nigeria.

Dr. Zipporah said, “These recommendations will enable high quality care for people living with HIV at all levels of our health care system, bring more people into treatment, and reduce the infection at the community level very fast. Thus, hopefully, this will help Nigeria achieve the laudable 90:90:90 UNAIDS goals.”

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The Northwest zonal dissemination event brought State Ministries of Health (SMoH) stakeholders from Jigawa, Kano, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kwara, Kebbi, Niger, and Katsina states. Other participants included academia, public and private health care providers, media, and people living with HIV seeking to gain a better understanding of the recommendations and strategize on how to quickly roll them out.

About seven technical sessions with various speakers discussed topics which focused on Antiretroviral Therapy; Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV; Preventive Management of HIV and AIDS; Diagnosis of HIV infection; Opportunistic Infections and Comorbidities; Implementation Arrangement for Test and Treat and 90-90-90 Policy: Presentation of Proposals; and Recommendations for Improved Service Delivery.

[MSH staff with other event participants.] {Photo credit: Aor Ikyaabo, MSH}MSH staff with other event participants.Photo credit: Aor Ikyaabo, MSH

The first technical session, chaired by Dr. Zipporah, focused on Antiretroviral Therapy. Dr. Oche Agbaji spoke on the key changes for adults and adolescents in the 2016 ART guidelines, mentioning that “early initiation of ART will increase survival rates for patients.” Prof. Williams Nuhu Ogala spoke on antiretroviral therapy in children. He said that clinical and laboratory monitoring are essential for HIV and AIDS care for children. Ernest Ekong spoke on treatment failure evaluations in adults and adolescents and provided guidance on how to manage these failures.

With support from PEPFAR through USAID, MSH implements the Care and Treatment for Sustained Support (CaTSS) project in five Nigerian states, of which three states are in the Northwest.

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