Written by Williams ABAH

USAID supports 300,000 OVCs in Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Rivers

Over the last five years, the U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID, says it has partnered with the Nigerian government to mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS among some of the most vulnerable Nigerians through support for more than 300,000 orphans and vulnerable children, OVCs, in three states.

A statement by the aid agency explained that since, 2014, the Local Partners for Orphans and Vulnerable Children activity, known as LOPIN 1, reached over 260,000 children and more than 50,000 caregivers, providing integrated services in the areas of health, education, nutrition, psychosocial support, protection, shelter and household economic strengthening in Akwa Ibom, Lagos, and Rivers states. 

“In a country like Nigeria, young people are the future,” Ms. Olivette Smith, political and economic analyst at the U.S. Consulate in Lagos, said at a ceremony.

“By helping this vulnerable cohort of the country’s youth population get access to health care and education and boost its economic resilience, the U.S. government through USAID is helping Nigeria meeting its commitment to ensure the next generation is ready.”

The activity shifted away from the usual approach to support these populations by instead implementing a more inclusive and sustainable family- and community-centered strategy in-line with Nigeria’s National Priority Agenda. As a result, more children have now been linked to lifesaving anti-retroviral therapy, helping move Nigeria closer to the United Nations’ goals for HIV/AIDS control.    

Through a large network of indigenous nongovernmental organizations led by the Association for Reproductive Health (AFRH), LOPIN 1 helped build the capacity of those NGOs to better address the needs of orphans and vulnerable children.

It also worked to strengthen local health systems in its areas of operation and engaged the private sector to enhance sustainability and access, introducing innovations such as conditional cash transfers, household economic strengthening, community-based health insurance, and village-level savings and loan programs.

According to the 2018 National AIDS and HIV Indicator and Impact Survey, the rate of HIV in the region fell from 3.4 percent to 1.4 percent in the last five years.  Still, the United States and the Government of Nigeria agree that no child should die of the disease.

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