Where are the Nigerian health advocates?

As our public health sector continues to deteriorate, it is impossible not to notice the absence of any sustained advocacy. This is most obvious in the HIV/AIDS arena. Nigeria has the second highest number of people infected in the world, over 3 million of us! Less than 500,000 are on treatment – all funded by donor funds despite N2.1B being allocated to the National Agency for the Control of AIDS  (NACA) in the 2014 budget….and we are all quiet. Very quiet….

To remind us what is possible with powerful targeted advocacy can achieve.

Vuyiseka Dubula is General Secretary of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), based in South Africa. As a young woman she joined TAC after learning her HIV positive status. Founded in 1998, TAC advocates for increased access to treatment, care and support services for people living with HIV. Since 1998, TAC has held government accountable for health care service delivery; campaigned against official AIDS denialism; challenged the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies to make treatment more affordable and cultivated community leadership on HIV and AIDS.Today, there are over 2.4 million people on life-saving antiretrovirals in South Africa all funded by the government, but she tells us that her struggle, and more importantly our struggle is not over just yet. Vuyiseka Dubula’s TEDxEuston 2013 talk is a a powerful reminder of the courage it takes to change paradigms when it appears that all the odds are stacked against you. Fighting big companies when you are poor and black was deemed impossible by many people. Fighting the government appeared even more daunting. Vuyiseka did it and lives to tell the tale.

Watch her talk HERE and share it with anyone you care about. It may change their life!

But all hope is not lost! If you have not already, you should find out more about  Fadekemi Akinfaderin-Agarau. She found her calling 13 years ago. She quit medical school and co-founded Education as a Vaccine (EVA) of which she is the current Executive Director. She has also  served in numerous advisory roles and has contributed to the development of adolescent sexual and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS policies in Nigeria. In her TEDxEuston 2013 talk, Fadekemi speaks on the dangers of silence (particularly when it comes to HIV in Africa). She challenges the social and cultural structures that fuel the HIV epidemic in Nigeria, a country with the 2nd largest number of people living with HIV in the world. In Nigeria, people living with HIV are still discriminated against, most tragically, often by the same institutions that should be protecting them.

Watch the talk HERE, and make your decision. Look away, or share it with every one you know. 


Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

Chikwe Ihekweazu is an epidemiologist and consultant public health physician. He is the Editor of Nigeria Health Watch, and the Managing Partner of EpiAfric (www.epiafric.com), which provides expertise in public health research and advisory services, health communication and professional development. He previously held leadership roles at the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the UK's Health Protection Agency. Chikwe has undertaken several short term consultancies for the World Health Organisation, mainly in response to major outbreaks. He is a TED Fellow and co-curator of TEDxEuston.

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