The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics (Jhpiego), has launched a national HIV media advocacy platform.
The platform was inaugurated on Thursday in Lagos during a ‘National HIV Media Advocacy/Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) skill building workshop’ organized by NACA in partnership with Jhpiego, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University (CHOICE project) .
The platform comprises media representatives from different states of the country, and head of public relations unit and zonal coordinators of NACA, among others.
Inaugurating the platform, the Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr Gambo Aliyu said the platform is expected to create more awareness on HIV, and also change the way the media reports it using the best approach.
Aliyu who was represented by the South-West Zonal Coordinator of the agency, Raheem Mohammed said the media is a critical stakeholder in the agency’s partnership efforts towards getting messages across to the public, as well as ending the epidemic by 2030.
He said media involvement, engagement and support is key in HIV response to ensure synergy in what the media reports and what NACA does.
He said the agency is concentrating on building media capacity because it is a powerful tool in catalysing change at individual, community and policy levels.
“NACA’s vision in the National HIV strategic framework is for Nigeria to be a nation of people with functional knowledge of HIV/AIDS.
“The agency is focused on increasing visibility of the HIV responses by steadfastly strengthening the strategic partnerships among stakeholders at all levels.
“We are concentrating on building media’s capacity as a powerful tool to catalyse change at individual, community and policy levels. Ours is to equip them and see how essential it is that all populations are well informed and knowledgeable about the risks of HIV infection, prevention, treatment and care for ending the HIV and AIDS epidemic in Nigeria,” the NACA boss said.
Dr Aliyu also said President Buhari would launch a national trust fund on HIV before the end of this year.
He said the trust fund would help lift the heavy burden on the government for domestic funding and ownership of the HIV response.
“We have gotten the commitment of all those that matter in the private sector for the trust fund,” he added.
Chief of Party, Johns Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology (Jhpiego), Emmanuel Atuma, said the platform is expected to be a rallying point that would shape discussion on HIV, and continually keep it on the front burner.
He said the training workshop was deliberately tailored for the media as an important move towards consolidating on the value of institutional partnerships, as well as collaboration with the mass media to ensure that the media becomes significantly involved in the forefront of HIV and AIDS response in Nigeria.
He said the current National HIV strategic framework recognizes that strengthening the use of social media platforms and traditional media to communicate a health promotion agenda is vitally important.
He said media is a strategic ally in the fight to end HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, adding that training journalists and setting up of HIV advocacy platform at the national level is therefore an excellent initiative by NACA.
“The media is strategically positioned to promote safer behavior by challenging the norms, values and culture that fuel risky behavior, if they are well informed.
“This four-day training will additionally equip the media with skills in designing effective change programmes , developing stories that create impact, as well as advocacy skills –how they can maximize the power of the media as an advocacy agent to catalyse social change and influence HIV related policies,” he said.