Five hospitals in Abia, Rivers, Delta, Edo and Bayelsa states are providing high-quality HIV/AIDS services under the Niger Delta AIDS Response (NiDAR) project initiated by the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC). The facilities, located at Owaza (Abia), Erhoike (Delta), Oben (Edo), Edagberi (Rivers), and Otuasega (Bayelsa), offer the only life-saving chance for people living with HIV/AIDS, by providing them with comprehensive counselling, care and treatment.
In 2009, SPDC and Family Health International, a non-profit organisation – started handing over control of their highly successful Niger Delta HIV/AIDS response project to the Nigerian government. This $2.2 million project ($660,000 Shell share) is Nigeria’s first comprehensive HIV/AIDS programme at primary health care level. The program has trained more than 240 health care providers.
In 2008-2009, about 14,000 individuals were tested for HIV/AIDS and received counselling. In the same period, over 3,700 pregnant women have received care to prevent transmission from mother to child and over 2,400 people were enrolled in HIV/AIDS treatment programs. Ninety people also began tuberculosis therapy in 2009.
In June 2009, the program received an award for collective partnership from the Global Business Coalition, a group of companies that encourage private sector businesses to use their expertise to improve public health through partnerships.
Dr. Fakunle said: “The secret of the success of NiDAR is that the communities are in charge. Each of the hospitals is managed by a committee headed by a nominee of the community. The committee is responsible for the efficient management of the hospital and provision of the required services. For example, at Owaza, the hospital is supported by a group of people living with HIV/AIDS called God’s Intervention Support Group. They have been very helpful in addressing the problem of stigma and discrimination.”
In August 2010, SPDC and Family Health International (FHI) 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.
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.