Some of Nigeria’s MSM are finding it easier to gain access to treatment since the provision of health care services covering LGBT people began in the capital Abuja earlier this year.
In April 2011, the International Centre for Advocacy on Right to Health (ICARH) a registered Nigerian non-governmental organization set up a health clinic in response to LGBT health care service provision in Abuja.
With funding from the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), ICARH collaborates with the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) with the aim to provide comprehensive sexual health care for LGBT persons in Abuja.
Ifeanyi Orazulike, ICARH Executive Director, informed BTM, “The project has recorded a significant success since inception. The challenges of accessing health care especially HIV/Aids have reduced drastically within the MSM community in Abuja.”
He added “Unlike in the past when it was very difficult for MSM to access HIV and other health care services in other health facilities because of stigma and discrimination associated with homosexuality and same sex practice, they (MSM) now feel more comfortable coming to ICARH’s facility to access HIV and other health care services.”
The clinic is being managed by a team of five staff members of ICARH, comprising a Nurse and Case Manager, two Care and Support officers and two M&E (record) officers. In addition are two volunteer doctors from Garki Hospital who take turn to come and help out on clinic days. Of all the people working in the clinic only two people are being paid; the Nurse Case Manager and one Care and Support Officer, every other person is working voluntarily.
ICARH’s program officer, Kadiri Audu, spoke of the achievements thus far saying, “Since the inception of the clinic in April; 105 clients (MSM) have accessed HCT service, out of which 52 tested positive and 53 negative. Out of the 52 that tested positive, 47 have been enrolled in to care and 11 are on ARVs.”
He added, “The extension of the clinic is yet to be done and this has affected the work flow process which at times even causes distress to the clients, in addition most of the equipment provided by IHVN is yet to be operational due to lack of space which ultimately affects the quality of services provided.”
Audu said, “Nutritional supplements, prophylaxis, pain killers and pain medications are inadequate, salaries for more permanent staff since most of the people working in the clinic are working on volunteer basis.”
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