HIV/AIDS No Longer Death Sentence in Nigeria, say HUGIN, ACPN

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– As 17 pharmacies bag COPA awards

Dr Dorothy Oqua, country director of Howard University Global Initiative Nigeria (HUGIN) and Dr Albert Kelong Alkali, national chairman of Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), have said that the war against the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in Nigeria will soon be won.

Oqua, while speaking at a programme organised to celebrate and award selected pharmacies in the country that have attained some level of accreditation by the Community Pharmacy Action Centre (COPA), at Rembrandt Hotel, Ikeja, explained that the mandate of HUGIN is to strengthen the capacity of pharmacy systems and pharmacists to provide sustainable and qualitative pharmaceutical care for HIV-infected clients and their families at primary, secondary and tertiary facilities, and communities in Nigeria.

COPA Awards
Dr Dorothy Oqua, country director, HUGIN (Right), presenting an award plaque to Pharm. Iyke Onyechi, managing director, Alpha Pharmacy Nigeria Limited, at the programme.

This mandate, according to her, involves collaborating with community pharmacists, through the ACPN, in states supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). She listed the states to include Lagos, Rivers, Akwa-Ibom, Cross River, as weall as  the Federal Capital Territory.

Speaking further, Oqua noted that the said collaboration is based on a model of differentiated care called “Community Pharmacy ARV Refill Programme (CPARP)”, where stable, willing and able patients are assigned to community pharmacies to receive their Antiretrovirals (ARVs) refill, with semi-annual return to the hospital for clinical and laboratory assessment.

Cross section awardees at the programme.

“The client pays a token to the community pharmacist for the service rendered, but the drugs are free, funded by the US government, and at the end of the day, the client is happy and the community pharmacist is happy, while the hospital is freer. It’s a win-win situation for all,” she said.

Appealing to pharmacists in the country to support the initiative, Oqua said: “I want to encourage all pharmacists, not just those in community practice, to get involved in this project, because HIV/AIDS, presently, is affecting over 3.2 million Nigerians, according to reports. Fortunately, all these people should not have anything to worry about as HIV/AIDs is no longer a death sentence, provided the person is exposed to adequate and proper care. Therefore pharmacists are importantly needed.”

Dr Alkali, in his address, noted that with the intervention programme of HUGIN, in collaboration with ACPN and PCN, Nigeria is definitely on the path to winning the war against HIV/AIDS.

“Over the years, the prevalence of the disease has been going down drastically and by 2030 we hope that we will not be having new cases of HIV infection in the country,” he said.

Speaking further, Alkali explained that the COPA initiative is designed to reposition selected community pharmacies as a models  to influence surrounding pharmacies to brace up to modern and pharmacy best practices, saying it’s a means of improving patients’ outcome by ensuring the rational use of medicines in Nigeria.

He added that HUGIN, in collaboration with ACPN and PCN, rolled out the COPA initiative as the quality assurance and quality improvement model, under the platform of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)-funded Sustainable Financing Initiative (SFI) of the Strengthening Integrated Delivery of HIV/AIDS Services (SIDHAS) project.

Speaking earlier, the National Coordinator of the Network of People Living With HIV/AIDS In Nigeria (NEPWHAN), Mr Victor Omosehin, lauded HUGIN and ACPN for reducing the burden on HIV patients.

The highpoint of the event was the presentation of awards to 17 pharmacies across four states – Lagos (seven), Rivers (four), Cross River (three) and Akwa-Ibom (three).

The awardees who were awarded under the category of COPA 1 included Epilson Pharmacy, Lagos; Drug Consult Pharmacy, Lagos; Mebik Pharmacy, Lagos; Silverline Pharmacy, Lagos; Rozec Pharmacy, Lagos; Barata Pharmacy, Rivers; GottGabe Pharmacy, Rivers; Healthspa Pharmacy, Rivers; Wilson Pharmacy, Rivers; Eagle Eye Pharmacy, Cross River; Joe Manuel Pharmacy, Cross River; Remcare Pharmacy, Cross River; Prolimsa Pharmacy, Akwa-Ibom; One Stop Pharmacy, Akwa-Ibom; and Golden Drugs Pharmacy, Akwa-Ibom State.

Alpha Pharmacy and Victory Drugs Limited, both from Lagos State were awarded under the COPA 3 category.

Other dignitaries at the programme included Pharm. NAE Mohammed, registrar, PCN; Pharm. Iyke Onyechi, managing director, Alpha Pharmacy and Stores Ltd; Pharm. Gbenga Fajemiro, NAFDAC; Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai, president, PSN, who was represented by Pharm. Daniel Orumwese, deputy president, PSN; Pharm. Bolanle Adeniran, chairman, PSN, Lagos State; Pharm. Samuel Adekola; Pharm. Chima Ogbu, among others

HUGIN is a non-governmental organisation saddled with the objective of reducing the burden of HIV/AIDS in targeted areas of Nigeria, through strengthened delivery of high quality comprehensive HIV/AIDS services.

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