In Nigeria, 3.5% of the population are said to be living with HIV/AIDS. If this figure is anything to go by, then the infection is not high as found in other places like South Africa and Zambia. With the country having around 150 million people, it can be interpreted to mean that, by the time the year 2010 is coming to an end, the number of people who will be living with this deadly epidemic will be almost 3.5 million. It is estimated that, the country lost 221,000 individuals approximately to AIDS last year (Poku & Whiteside, 4). The expectancy of live has gone down owing to this deadly epidemic causing the lives of many. Around ten years ago, life expectancy was 54 years for men and 55 years for women. Surprisingly, last year it was revealed that this has since gone down with life expectancy reading 45 for men and 47 for women. The map below, fig 1.0 proves the life expectancy in Nigeria.
Nigeria is said to be third placed with high number of people living with HIV/AIDS. The situation is very serious and is not the same in all regions. In some areas, the disease is at the climax and is being fuelled by the immorality found there. In other places still, the distribution of the same is not as much although there are still cases of individuals sleeping around with more than three partners which is what has sustained the situation in those places. The youths are the worse hit with the young females being top on the list followed by the young males (Poku & Whiteside, 8).
Studies carried out in that country indicate that some of the contributing factors include prostitution, many sexually transmitted diseases, high sexual intercourse among casual laborers, many cases of homosexuality, careless screening of blood and female trafficking internationally. The country is still suffering from colonial hangovers which have haunted the country to an extent of the government being unable to put up good health facilities. It has made it very difficult to come up with programs that can help educate people on how to control the spread of this deadly epidemic (Poku & Whiteside, 54). The private organizations in Nigeria are highly unregulated and worst of all they are not linked with public health which deal with this menace. The level of training and personnel development is on the lower side and cannot provide a room for initiating programs to curb the situation. On the same breath, the attention needed from the health staff is practically impossible due to straining of the same and the fact that they are not trained on maters regarding HIV/AIDS (Pathfinder International). This research paper will focus on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria citing its effects, the social vulnerabilities, the geographical distribution of the same with a map of the same, the local solution to this menace and how successful, problems faced in implementation of the same, analysis of whether the solution mentioned can be applied in other areas and finally the conclusion based on assessment of the solution provided whether it has global potential.
I. Effects of HIV/AIDS
To begin with, HIV/AIDS is indeed a very big problem because of the number of lives which are being claimed by this menace. The effects are far reaching in Nigeria's society, family, economy, places of work and the health sector. The effects of HIV in Nigeria on health sector are there in plenty. The disease has put an extra burden on the problematic health system. As the disease continues to progress, the attention needed to care for the already infected goes up and the limited health workers are strained. In Fig 1.0, the areas shown are the worst affected area by the epidemic. For every individual who is suffering from HIV the Nigerian health sector is said to be spending an estimated $35 in each given year. The overall amount spent is on the lower side slightly (Poku & Whiteside, 55).
In Nigeria, the HIV patients usually occupy 50% of the hospital beds in any given time. The victims normally stay there for the longest time than other patients making the health expenditure on HIV to be 70% of the total hospital expenditure. The effects on the health sector have gone up until hospitals have resulted to admitting people when they in the last stages (Pathfinder International). The staff in hospitals has been reduced due to death emanating from the disease and the workload has drastically increased. Although the coming of ARVs has made the situation to calm a bit, the provision of the same by hospital staff is becoming a problem in Nigeria due to high number of victims.
The social effects that come with the disease are equally far reaching and something needs to be done. In Nigeria, people infected with the disease are side lined in the society thus the stigma is very high. In case the victim dies leaving behind children, the children are equally neglected leading to many of them becoming street children (Pathfinder International). In some situations, children have resulted to be the family bread winners as the parents continue ailing with some dying. On the same note, Nigeria has the highest number of orphans due to HIV in Africa. The relationship between the children of those dying of HIV with the rest from healthy families has continued getting worse due to mockery. This has resulted to poor academic performance with some even dropping out f school when the situation becomes unbearable (USAID). Fig 1.1 below shows areas well known in Nigeria where the effects of HIV/AIDs are heavily seen.
The effects of HIV in the work places are equally worrying. Most people who are suffering from the epidemic are the strong and energetic who are within the age bracket of 15 and 50 years. Due to this, the labor needed is not met thus affecting the economy of the country very bad. The cot of health care in Nigerian companies has gone up due to most individuals who are opting to go for early retirement (USAID). As the effects on the household continue to escalate, the demand for goods in the market continues to decline. The effect on the productivity of workers is equally felt with many failing to report to work which definitely increases the cost on the company. In Nigeria, most companies are facing a reduction in profit and all this is being blamed on the negative effect of the HIV. Still on the work place in Nigeria, studies indicate that only 13% of the firms have put in place policies that deal with HIV/AIDS.
The effects on the Nigerian economy are far reaching if what studies indicate is anything to go by. The minimized labor due to the sickness which reduces productivity on the young and energetic who can work affects the economy in the long run. In Nigeria, the income of the government has reduced owing to this menace (USAID). When this happens, the authority increases tax and the pressure squarely falls on the few who are working as they struggle to pay for the deficit realized. The HIV has also resulted to Nigeria being unable to attract investors because of the level of risking lacking workers. This has added to the many that are jobless making the economy to strain to sustain all of them. The effect that HIV has had on the economy of Nigeria is hard to estimate but it is obvious that it has immense negative effects on it (USAID).
The effects of HIV on the Nigerian household are notable. It goes without saying that, the areas ridden with poverty are the worst hit by the disease. Many households have been seen breaking all because of HIV. This is because when parents succumb, children are taken to live with their relatives and friends who are equally poor (USAID). Statistics show that, household where grown ups have succumbed due to AIDs have higher chances of getting disband than those where no death has taken place. In Nigeria, it has been established that, all those people who are earning are likely to have more mouths to feed if the number of parents dying from HIV is anything to go by. In the same breath, a rise in families with no one earning is likely to be there in the near future.
Still on the effects of HIV, many children in Nigeria are likely to drop out of school with many women who have been left with families to look after and have no jobs opting to sell their bodies. This will worsen the situation already existing. A study in the same country indicate that, HIV will frustrate the efforts of reducing poverty and as a result, there will be a raise on the number of people who are living in abject poverty. In families where they have victims suffering from HIV, they have been forced to reduce on their spending to cater for them. It is estimated that, out of the family's total earnings 30% goes to care for the HIV patient (Poku & Whiteside, 104). The high numbers of men and women who are dying is greatly affecting the agricultural sector thus very little is realized which can make the family to sustain itself. Most families have exhausted the savings and got themselves into bad debts due to the pressure put on them of paying medical fee for the victims. When the situation gets out of hand, the family results to selling the only available asset to offset huge medical bills. The end result is total frustration as nothing much is achieved apart from death of the victim.
The local solutions are just some of the ways that HIV can be reduced in the Nigerian society. The ministry of health has initiated some programs which are meant to sensitize the commercial sex workers and the young men on how to change their habits to reduce the spread of the disease in Nigeria. Through this method, it is estimated that there will be a 25% reduction of HIV in Nigeria five years from now (Poku & Whiteside, 114).
Another local solution is through the use of media to reach the people on the ground. This is very practical in a country where the population is very high. The society for family health has been making use of radio to educate the masses on how to change their behavior and more knowledge on the disease. The launching of a radio station known as 'Future Dreams' which broadcasted in almost ten different languages was indeed a great step to reducing HIV in Nigeria. The station was encouraging on the use of condoms and maximizing skills n the same to the young people. The most targeted were the teenagers (Nigeria Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund, 62).
Another solution to reduce the menace is through the sending of texts through mobile phones with information o the epidemic. This method in 2005 reached almost ten million people who have phones. It is assumed that they also communicated the same to those around them thus many got the information. To add on that, Femi Kuti is known to play a role in sensitizing the locals through bill boards which are all over Nigeria (Nigeria Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund, 64).
The locals have always been encouraged to go for tests because it was noted that many people were not aware of their status thus walked around spreading the virus. It was equally noted that there was need to take some of the health experts on training in order to equip them international measure required to carry out the tests. The government has since invested in increasing centers for testing HIV/AIDS and as a result many have taken the responsibility of going for tests (USAID).
With sex being said to be the major cause of the disease, people in Nigeria have been enrolled for education on the same. This has enabled many to deal with misunderstanding surrounding the spread of the same through sexual intercourse. Studies also indicate that, many young girls are getting into marriage without knowledge of HIV thus risking their lives without knowing. Due to that, the campaigns against early marriages have been on the rise and it has mostly targeted the young who might not access HIV education (USAID).
Condoms have equally been identified as another solution of reducing chances of getting HIV AIDS. The number of condoms in Nigeria has always been on the lower side. This has contributed a lot to many people engaging in the act without protection (Nigeria Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund, 79). Campaigns on this have been met with sharp opposition because it is perceived as a way of encouraging people to continue indulging in sexual activities. APCON has since changed its attitude on the same and the number of condoms has increased since then. This has helped in one way or another reduces spread of HIV.
The above solutions in reducing the spread of HIV AIDS have not been successful in the whole of Nigeria. In most case, sensitizing people on HIV through bill boards has taken toll in most urban centers. In many rural areas, health facilities to access ARVs have not been located in many rural areas thus making for many to get the tablets. The above methods can be used in any country as they are not restricted to Nigeria only. Such things as condoms can be used in other countries as they are not costly. The use of media to raise awareness on the same can equally be used in many parts in (Nigeria Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund, 89).
There are a number of challenges which faces the fight against HIV AIDs in Nigeria. The first thing is little funding given the situation in Nigeria. This has made it impossible to face the menace head on because without money, the facilities to work with definitely become a big problem (Pathfinder International).
The country has looked up too much to get aid from donors. This has led to a lot of laxity on the side of the government to take appropriate action to help her people who are dying everyday (USAID).
There has been no dedication from those making policies on HIV AIDs and the political will on the same has been very minimal if any. This has resulted to the increase of the epidemic every other day (USAID).
There are no trained people who can initiate programs of reducing the spread of HIV AIDs. This is indeed a major contributor (USAID).
The country has no or little support from the NGOs and the coordination of the same with the authority has not been successful. There is no database on HIV in the country making the situation more dangerous. On the same note, sex education has been always discouraged by the conservative cultural beliefs frustrating the efforts on the same. Finally, the level of poverty has equally contributed on spread of HIV AIDs (USAID).
From a global point of view in regard to solutions on HIV AID condition in Nigeria, there has been introduction of ARVs which have been in the country since 1990. Although it was introduced, it was just very difficult for the poor to afford. In the year 2001, the government came up with a way of providing the same at reduced rates so that all could afford (Ajayi, 201). This move was not only in Nigeria but also in other parts of Africa. Although the program was on its feet it faced another blow in 2004 when the ARVs were out of store bringing a problem of many going days without the dose. This global solution was faced with a problem of having too many patients in Nigeria with only a handful of centers to distribute the same. There then rose a need for more centers being required (USAID).
Another global solution to is funding from such institution like the World Bank who have been the main donors in Nigeria. In 2002, the institution gave out $90 million to back up the programs against HIV for five years. Five years after the same organization contributed $50 million. The American government through PEPFAR has also come on board to provide monetary fund to help curb the menace. This has really helped the country in expanding treatment and campaigns in prevention of the same in Nigeria. The ARVs have also been supplied without shortage to many who are ailing in Nigeria (Ajayi, 204).