THE INSTITUTE of Human
Virology Nigeria, IHVN, said it has
began collaborating with private
pharmacies in communities in the
Federal Capital Territory (FCT)
and Nasarawa State to give people
living with HIV in the country easy
access to anti- retroviral treatment.
IHVN Associate Director and
Head of Pharmacy, Pharm.
Yohanna Avong, disclosed this
innovation in Keffi at training
for community pharmacists and
hospital staff.
Avong noted that, with the
collaboration, PLHIV who have
been receiving treatment for more
than six months and are seen to
be responding to treatment, are
referred to community pharmacies
close to them for drug refill and
counselling instead of queuing up
in hospitals for their drugs.
He disclosed that over 30
pharmacists from accredited
pharmacists in communities
have been trained to provide
HIV treatment, adherence,
pharmaceutical care, proper
management and storage of HIV
drugs among other skills, adding that the target is to recruit 75
pharmacies in Benue, Nasarawa
states and the Federal Capital
Territory, FCT, before the end of
2017.
“Before we introduced this
approach, treatment of people
living with HIV has been based
only in the hospital. This is the first
time the community approach is
being implemented in the health
sector in Nigeria. If HIV is to end
by 2030, treatment must shift from
the hospital to the community.
Right now, most of the hospitals
that are treating HIV patients are
overcrowded.’’
Avong also stated that the
initiative has been piloted for a year
in the F CT with over 250 PLHIV
benefiting, and six secondary
hospitals participating in it. He
said that there were plans to also
implement it in Benue State, which
is also a high burden HIV state.
According to him, “Studies that
were done in the past few years
show that in Africa, the rate of
patients dropping out of treatment
is increasing. Ultimately, this
initiative will improve adherence
to treatment and findings from our
pilot phase show that this is true.’’
He urged the Federal
Government to continue this
initiative that is currently
sponsored by the US President’s
Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief,
PEPFAR, through the Centres for
Disease Control and Prevention,
CDC.
Pharm. Adonis Gesa, a staff of
Nyanya General Hospital, Abuja,
who participated in the pilot
project, said that the initiative has
reduced the work of health care
providers. “Before now, we have
patients come as early as 6am and
leave as late as 4pm but now, by
1pm, 90% of the patients have been
attended to’’, he said.
A PLHIV who has been getting
drug refills from a pharmacy in
Karu says that he is happy that
he can go there at any time. “In
terms of giving us drugs, they
don’t delay. They listen to us. It is
not everybody that will be happy
to say they are having this disease.
If you go to the community
pharmacy, they attend to us oneon-
one.”

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