To achieve the objectives of HIV Self Testing (HIVST), the Society for Family Health (SFG), a non-governmental organization, has deployed Total Market Approach (TMA), to help grow the private sector market for HIVST to a sustainable stage overtime in Nigeria.
Dr Omokhudu Idogho, Managing Director, SFH, said this on Tuesday in Abuja, during the Strengthening HIVST in the Private Sector (SHIPS), project market research dissemination meeting.
The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN), reports that SHIPS Project in Nigeria, is a government and non-governmental health organizations have made progress towards increasing awareness of the importance of individuals knowing their HIV status.
However, these strides have not been without challenges that are continuously hampering their ability to achieve the country’s set target of the 90.90.90 HIV targets by December 2020 while working towards the global UNAIDs target of 95.95.95 by 2030.
Idogho said that the approach was essential for the development and facilitation of the private sector market in improving efficiency and access of HIVST through the identification of the market players, the distributors, and the regulators.
“To close the HIV testing gap, SFH through Population Service International (PSI) received funding from Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) to implement the Strengthening HIV Self-testing (HIVST) in the Private Sector (SHIPS) project.
“The two phased project (Phase 1: November 2020 – October 2021, Phase 2: November 2021- December 2022) is being implemented in three countries: Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda,” he disclosed.
The managing director said that the organization was working with communities, government, donors and the private sector for Universal Health Coverage (UHC), and social justice for all Nigerians.
He added that the organization used health system strengthening and market development approaches striving to unify the private and public health sector to scale an Essential Package of Health Services (EPHS) offering of good quality to all Nigerians.
Idogho said that the organization connected its over thirty years of thought leadership in a range of practical community level interventions to policy engagement to drive scale and population level impact and connect rich and poor Nigerians by expanding access to care/health products.
According to him, the SHIPS Project funded by Children Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF). And as a learning organization will continue to use evidence to drive implementation which in this instance will identify barriers and bottlenecks limiting the growth of the private sector market for HIVST.
He noted that this was with the support from the National AIDS, Sexually Transmitted Infections Control and Hepatitis Programme (NASCP), a division of the Department of Public Health, in the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), SFH in collaboration with Population Service International (PSI), and Busara Centre for Behavioural Economics conducted qualitative research in July-August 2021 with key end-user and supply side populations of HIVST products.
“The Research carried out in 3 states (Lagos, Kano, and Anambra) gained an immersive understanding of our target audiences and how they interact with key influencers. In addition, the research identified the barriers and enablers to intervene, especially when it comes to effective use of HIVST, with the purpose of informing both demand and supply side interventions.
“The country is currently on course to achieving UNADS 2030 target of 95;95;95, HIVST serves as a key HTS component to support the process of achieving the first 95. We will continue to leverage on our market shaping/market development experience to support the growth of HIVST in the TMA agenda.
“We believe this will ensure as a country we have built and develop our healthcare delivery market in readiness for post 2030,” he explained.
The managing director added that, as a forward-looking organization, it would continue to support the government in the healthcare strengthening and market broadening particularly in a post COVID-19 world where healthcare as it where was now personalized.
“We believe HIVST will continue to remain a key component of the broader self-care products.
“With this dissemination of the market research findings, we believe we would collectively move towards the empowerment of the private sector and change the narrative as it pertains to HIV response,” he added.
In her remarks, Dr Akudo Ikpeazu, head of NASCP, FMOH, said that the power of collaboration can not be over emphasized, while urging all to work towards achieving the end goal of eradicating HIV in country.
Ikpeazu said that to improve access to HIV Testing among the high-risk groups, the underserved population and to support early diagnosis and access to treatment and prevention, the World Health Organization (WHO), launched new guidelines on HIV self-testing on World AIDS Day in 2016 in which primary recommendation of the guidelines was that HIVST should be offered as an additional approach to increase HIV testing services and future outcomes.
“As an effort to bridge the existing HIV testing gaps in Nigeria, the FMOH), integrated HIVST into the national testing strategies.
“Since the roll out of the national operational guidelines on HIVST in 2018, two tests kits have been evaluated and successfully validated to be used in-country. However, there has been limited access and availability to the kits by those who deserve to use it,” she said.
Speaking on the market research findings; Mr Dennis Aizobu, Project Lead, SHIPS, SFH,Nigeria, said that a qualitative market market research was carried out with key end-user populations of HIV self-testing products.
Aizobu noted that the research was aimed at gaining an immersive understanding of the environment the audiences were operating in, how they interact with key influencers (both in person and online).
“In addition, it identified the barriers and opportunities to intervene, especially when it comes to effective use of HIVST, with the purpose of informing both demand and supply side intervention.
“As a result of this findings from the market research, the project would be carrying out a dissemination meeting with key government and private sector stakeholders so that insight from the market research can be to improve programming for HIVST private sector growth,” he added. (NAN)