By Chimezie Godfrey
A civil society organization, Aids Vaccines Advocacy Coalition (AVAC) has called on government and critical stakeholders for immediate action to address policy and program gaps on Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) and HIV prevention in the country, and Africa at large.
David Ekpenyong Ita, Program Manager, AVAC, made the call on Tuesday in Abuja during a media roundtable on Adolescents’ Sexual Reproductive Health and Age of Consent.
Ita disclosed that some of the policy issues on adolescents sexual reproductive health and HIV prevention borders on age of access to SRH services, and lack of budget line to support sexual reproductive health programmes.
Others are lack of youth friendly services to address the needs of young people, no comprehensive integration of sexual reproductive health services in current school curriculum, and exclusion of adolescents from services by PEPFAR KP Care programme, among others.
Ita in consideration of the above policy gaps, called for the immediate Interventions of government and stakeholders to address the policy and program gaps that stands as barriers to tackling issues relating to adolescent reproductive health and HIV prevention in Nigeria.
“There is a global concern on the bulging youth population, is a time bomb for Africa and Nigeria in particular if actions are not taken to address the SRH and HIV prevention needs.
“It is only a healthy youth populations that can yield a demographic dividend of a growing nation like Nigeria.
“We call for immediate actions to address the policy and program gaps.
“The PEPFAR Country office should consider inclusion of adolescent in their PEPFAR KP Care programme, they should make provision for adolescents and young people to access HIV prevention and care services.
“We demand for the age of access to be reduced to 14 years for both the SRH and HIV testing services. Reduction in age of access should not be limited to HIV counseling and testing services only.
“We ask for the review of the curriculum for the integration of comprehensive sexual reproductive health education in the school curriculum, to include contraceptives education , safe abortion and post abortion services, and innovations in HIV preventions,” Ita said.
Durueke Florida, Program Manager, New HIV Vaccine and Microbicide Advocacy Society (NHVMAS) advocates that the PEPFAR should be made available in community centers where the key population are.
She added that Nigeria should have a national roadmap on how to reach the key population with the PrEP.
She said,” until we have a national roadmap defined and operationalized it, it will be difficult to be difficult to reach the key population with PrEP.”