Persons Living With HIV Cry Out As Group Loses Member Due To Health Workers' Strike
When the industrial action of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) began, Nigerians had thought the government would be quick to reaching an agreement with the union, considering their contributions to the efficiency of healthcare delivery in hospitals, but that is not happening.
Their absence is costing the nation the lives of its citizens, and some young ones at that.
One of the group of persons in dire need of medical service offered by these striking workers are those living with HIV/AIDS.
Their condition demands proper monitoring and treatment.
It is, however, sad that they are losing their members to death due to treatment complications.
The Association of Positive Youths living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (APIN) gave a hint of what its members are facing as a result of the strike by JOHESU.
Also Read: Court Orders Health Workers To End Strike
Mr Isah Mohammed is the National Coordinator of APIN and he told a gathering at the National Consultation on positive masculinities and femininity with adolescents and young people in faith communities organised by Christian Council of Nigeria on Friday in Abuja that the association had just buried one of its active female members.
He said she died on Saturday May 19, as a result of treatment complication that led to kidney failure.
"Before her death we have been running helter-skelter to various stakeholders in Osun state; this is just one person out of so many people that died avoidable death.
"We believe that the strike must be called off, because life of Nigerians matters. For us as people living with HIV, we have just buried one of our own yesterday. It is a hard pill to swallow because she was just 15 years with a lot of promise, but now she is gone meaning that many die in their numbers,’’ Mohammed said.
Amidst the strike, access to drugs has been limited, but the national coordinator of the association told reporters that the members of the association were able to get drugs at some tertiary health facilities through the intervention of development partners.
"I have not received any confirmation on whether the primary healthcare centres across the country are dispensing drugs to people living with HIV or not," Mohammed stated, highlighting also that nobody has received CD4 and viral load tests since the commencement of the strike.
“Anybody that is conversant with HIV management knows that CD4 testing and viral load testing are the only way to monitor progress on treatment.“If you don’t monitor progress how do you know if someone is failing on treatment or having challenges on adherence?
“This strike is biggest single bottleneck and as people living with HIV and AIDS we call the Federal Ministry of Health to be responsible and honour its commitment,’’ he said.
The association wants the government to, as a matter of importance, mainstream the voices of adolescent and young people into decision making.