June 23, 2024

HIV/AIDS: AHF takes advocacy training to A’Ibom community

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Akpan Umoh, Uyo

A Non-Governmental Organisation, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Nigeria has taken advocacy training to Nnung Udoe community in the Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State to develop the capacity of community members to advocate for access to healthcare services, and other welfare issues in the community.

Speaking to newsmen on Saturday at the closing ceremony of the two-day training, Dr Ekemini Essien, State Coordinator of AHF, said the training was to equip the group members on the strategies of advocacy to scale up access to HIV and TB services in the community.

Essien, who is also the Team Lead noted that the advocacy group members were trained on how to identify and provide completely free quality service

at the community level in collaboration with AHF.

He added that AHF Nigeria during the training also gave the members the tools to enable them to advocate and understand what advocacy entails.

“So, right now within the Ibesikpo Asutan, Nnung Udoe area, we decided to set up and train members of the advocacy club who can carry out advocacy on issues identified as paramount to the community.

“That will bridge the gap of knowledge, provide sensitisation and awareness on public health issues and that is able to harness the strength of the community to meet their needs.

“The advocacy group involves bringing together a number of  individuals within the community representing various age groups and social status who are passionate and ready to serve their community through advocacy.

“Community Advocacy group is the concept of AHF African Bureau, while AHF Africa Bureau comprises of 13 countries in Africa including Nigeria.

“The community advocacy club is a flagship program of AHF to allow the voices of the community count on issues that matter to them.

“We see ourselves as a community based organisation, and we love to work in hard to reach locations where other people don’t want go to.”

“So, we are working with this community now to set up an advocacy group, we call them the power voices,” Essien said.

AHF Nigeria Advocacy and Marketing Manager, Steve Aborisade said that the advocacy group, with the support of AHF and in collaboration with other key stakeholders, will draw attention and seek responses to the challenges facing the community.

He said that AHF Nigeria will also offer support to the state’s programme in the areas of index case findings and awareness creation.

The Advocacy Manager said that the target of the organisation is to have community actors themselves respond to issues in the community.

He said, “We are going to be spreading out, from this community to the other local government areas where we will work in Akwa Ibom state.”

Speaking to our Correspondent,  the Chairman of the advocacy group in the community, Eteidung John Etim, Village Head of Mbikpong Ikot Edim in Ibesikpo Asutan LGA commended the AHF Nigeria for setting up the advocacy group in the community.

Etim promised to use his position to sensitise the people of the community about HIV/AIDS to reduce the spread of the virus.

“I really appreciate this NGO for coming down to this community with this advocacy initiative. We see it as a way of helping the people of our community.

“As part of my civic responsibility, I have so many ways of taking the information to the people in my domain.

“I will use my town criIr, I will use churches, schools and market in my community to disseminate the information,” Etim said.

He expressed happiness for AHF Nigeria for bringing the advocacy to his community and promised to make maximum use of the opportunity.

Another group member, Miss Redeem Eyo, from the community said that the advocacy training had allowed her to know more about HIV/AIDS and how to prevent it.

Eyo, who is from Mbierebe Akpawat in Ibesikpo Asutan LGA said the advocacy training has equipped her to reach out to her friends in the community.

“Today, I’m very happy for this programme as it has enlightened me about HIV/AIDS. It has created enough awareness and has given me more knowledge about the disease.

I will take the advocacy to my peer group for enlightenment on the signs and symptoms of HIV/AIDS and abstinence as the best option,” Eyo said.

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