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SPDC, FHI Extend HIV/AIDS Intervention Programme in Niger Delta

The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) of Nigeria Ltd. operated Joint Venture and Family Health International (FHI) have signed an agreement to extend their highly-successful Niger Delta AIDS Response Programme (NiDAR) to 10 more hospitals. NiDAR is already being implemented in five hospitals, and the extension means more people can get comprehensive HIV/AIDS care, treatment and support services at a total 15 SPDC-supported hospitals in Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Rivers and Abia states.

Speaking at the signing ceremony in Abuja, Managing Director of SPDC and Country Chair, Shell Nigeria Mutiu Sunmonu said; “The partnership between SPDC and FHI has brought real benefits to people living with HIV in the Niger Delta and even beyond. We are happy to extend this winning partnership to benefit more people in our host communities. The partnership is a model that can be extended to other areas.” The acting Country Director of FHI Dr. Robert Chiegli said: “We will work to integrate the programme with the Community Health Insurance Scheme inspired by SPDC in Rivers State, and other existing structures so that the benefits of the extended project will be sustained beyond the two-year implementation period.”

The extended programme, known as NiDAR Plus will include Malaria control and Child Survival services. It will also strengthen the healthcare system and infrastructure in the Niger Delta, and help to improve collaboration among public and private sector stakeholders on health issues. Through the new programme, SPDC and FHI also hope to increased awareness about HIV/AIDS, maternal, neonatal and child health services especially among people living with HIV, family and community members. The Director General of the National Agency for Control of AIDS, Prof. John Idoko and the Nation Co-ordinator, HIV/AIDS Division in the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Napada Balami both commended the extension of the NiDAR project and pledged to support its effective implementation.

SPDC Regional Community Health Manager, Dr. Babatunde Fakunle said: “The NiDAR Plus project approach places communities in the driver’s seat, which will encourage government institutions, NGOs, and other services providers to build capacities in primary health care including the formation of partnerships and supportive networks.” SPDC is contributing funds and logistics, security and transportation support and medical staff supervision while FHI provides expertise. The two establishments are working closely with the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) and the various State Agency for Control of AIDS to deliver the programme.

Implementation of the NiDAR project commenced in 2007. Since then, more than 15,000 people have benefited from the services ranging from testing to counseling and treatment. In June last year, SPDC won the Global Business Coalition Award for Collective Partnership with the NiDAR project being a best-in-class for partnership. SPDC has also sponsored the production of seven short films and 21 radio drama series as well as a colourful youth magazine, targeting youths with information on HIV/AIDS. Some of the films have won awards in the Nigerian and international film circuits.