Community-Based HIV Response in Nigeria: Local Fishermen Playing Key Role
His Royal Highness Alhaji Abubakar Salihu Bawuru (Sarkin Ibi) of the Ibi Community, Taraba State, Nigeria, is on the forefront of the drive to help his people appreciate and embrace HIV intervention programs in their community as part of a healthier lifestyle. He says, "community participation holds the key to national response."
Sarkin Ibi's support of MSH's USAID-funded Prevention Organizational AIDS Care and Treatment (ProACT) project has catalyzed the community's response to HIV & AIDS interventions in the Ibi community. ProACT has led to the successful decentralization of HIV prevention, treatment, and care services there.
Sarkin Ibi and Management Sciences for Health's (MSH) President and CEO Jonathan D. Quick, MD, MPH attended the5th National Conference on HIV & AIDS in Abuja, Nigeria this May. Sarkin Ibi shared his experiences of working with communities with Dr. Quick. The conference brought together Nigerian policy makers, donors, partners, researchers, clinicians, community based organizations, nongovernmental organizations, faith based organizations, and other relevant stakeholders to address contemporary issues on the epidemic and national response strategies to control the disease in Nigeria.
As the leader of a local fishermen's community with a high incidence of HIV infection, Sarkin Ibi has helped promote ProACT's strategy of community response and ownership by implementing a peer-to-peer mentoring program. Sarkin Ibi has also volunteered to meet his kinsmen in the different localities within the state to encourage them to participate in effective community engagement in the fight against HIV.
ProACT is building government and civil society organizations' (CSOs) capacity to strengthen health systems for delivery of integrated health, HIV & AIDS, and TB services in six states in Nigeria. The project supports the strengthening of community organizational systems for management of HIV & AIDS through gender-based approaches and a small grants program for local CSOs in Nigeria.