New Partnership Merges Education, HIV, Reproductive Health for Young

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The Integration Partnership (TIP)

The Integration Partnership (TIP)

International health organisations have launched a two-year project backing calls to integrate reproductive health and HIV/AIDS services in six African countries.

The project known as The Integration Partnership (TIP) will also provide supplies for reproductive health, maternal and newborn child health, as well as integrated response to AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

The partners–Population Action International, Friends Africa and Family Care International–say the object of TIP is to increase priority and resources dedicated to integrating all the separate health services in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia, as well as and within influential global institutions including the Global Fund.

At the first Regional Summit on HIV/AIDS in Abuja, the partners said in a statement: “The integration of key health services allows countries to address simultaneously Millennium Development Goals 4, 5 and 6–respectively child mortality; maternal mortality; and HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other infectious diseases.”

Crucial needs

Participants at the push stressed a need for integrate reproductive health and HIV services in Nigeria, which is thought to be facing an increase in the ratio of women dying per 100,000 live births, against falling trends globally.

The country still faces poor use of contraceptives, as low as 14.6% in 2008.

Poor contraceptive use is thought to contribute to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, affecting mostly young people aged 15 to 35.

“We have to draw public attention that rh/hiv integration is the way to go,” said Olayide Akanni, executive director for Journalists Against Aids in Nigeria.

She said Nigeria’s media needed to get both its public and government to pay attention to the issues at stake.

“A pregnant woman who is HIV-positive, she has to go to HIV clinic, then family planning and antenatal [clinic] separately. The services are related for the same person. Why can’t these services come under one umbrella?”

She also said journalists need to understand issues surrounding integration of reproductive health and HIV/AIDS same as they have understood similar integration of services for HIV and tuberculosis care.

In comments targeted at proponents of integration, she said: “A lot of times, journalists did not understand what the issues are, and i can tell you that there aren’t a lot of forums where these issues are being discussed. If we are not discussing these issues in ways journalists understand, definitely they will not report these issues or advocate for these issues.”

Life choices

The summit deliberated also on ways of reaching youths with knowledge to make important life and health choices by integrating health information into mainstream education.

National Agency for Control of AIDS (NACA) and other local and international agencies facilitate the siting of youth-friendly centres where young people can receive free counselling in non-hostile environment–what partners have called a one-stop-shop approach to reproductive health and HIV.

However, some centres sited in schools which requested for them have been left unattended.

But Dr Emmanuel Alhassan, director of resource mobilisation at NACA admitted getting adequate financial and human resource was a challenge, but said Nigeria and its citizens needed take ownership and responsibility to get on track with dealing with its situation.

“HIV is still with us. The related diseases of TB and malaria are still here with us. Do we agree that they are issues? Are we taking responsibility for these issues?” he questioned.

“Once we do that, other things can begin to fall into place. Then we can now look for extra [financial, material and human] resources.”

The focus on youths come amidst claims that sexually active young people are more worried about pregnancy than contracting HIV/AIDS.

“They should be mindful of dual protection,” said Chioma Nwachukwu, development coordinator for Friends Africa.

“The same way you are thinking about not being pregnant is the same way you should be thinking about not being positive.”

In addition to targeting young people, Friends Africa wants professionals in health and education to “begin to discuss these issues at the same time,” said Nwachukwu.

“We have to make sure they [young people] have the right information, knowledge and tools at all times to make right life choices.”


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