September 11, 2009

‘Wrap-around’ approach boosts Nigeria HIV efforts

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Muktar Aliyu, M.D., DrPH, talks about Vanderbilt’s HIV/AIDS programs in Nigeria. (photo by Joe Howell)

‘Wrap-around’ approach boosts Nigeria HIV efforts

In its first year of operation, a Vanderbilt University-led HIV/AIDS program in Nigeria established six clinics and provided comprehensive prevention and care services to more than 2,000 clients.

It seems a drop in the bucket in a nation where a half million HIV-infected people need treatment. But while the challenges are immense, “much progress has been made,” asserted Muktar Aliyu, M.D., DrPH, assistant professor of Preventive Medicine, during last week's Global Health Grand Rounds.

“Vanderbilt is ahead of the pack,” Aliyu said, when it comes to the implementing “wrap-around” programs including water, sanitation, food, economic development and education. “This is where the future is for HIV/AIDS programs,” he said.

Aliyu, a native Nigerian, directs Vanderbilt's Friends in Global Health (FGH) HIV project in this West African nation. FGH, a Vanderbilt-owned subsidiary operated by the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health, also provides HIV/AIDS services in Mozambique. Both projects are supported by the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

With 140 million people, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa. An estimated 2.6 million Nigerians were living with HIV in 2007, according to the United Nations, a number exceeded only by South Africa's 5.7 million.

AIDS is not the only challenge facing Nigeria, where most people live on less than $2 a day, Aliyu said.

Health care resources in many parts of the country are rudimentary. Other urgent health problems, such as malaria, compete for attention. Philanthropy has dwindled due to the global economic downturn.

Corruption and crime also plague parts of the country, although Aliyu pointed out that security has not been a problem where the FGH clinics are located.

The Institute for Global Health is holding an open house from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. today, Sept. 11, at 2525 West End, Suite 750. For more information, click on