World AIDS day in the Nigerian Press…Fatigue or Indifference


While the rest of the world marked the World AIDS day, it seemed to have been marked with deafening silence in Nigeria.

Yes…NACA did release a statement, which maybe was available in the print editions of the dailies, but was nowhere to be found on the online versions. NTA’s network news did not carry a single story about AIDS on the day. So what effect does a statement have if no one reads it?

Carried on by the always reliable JAAIDs forum…the highlights were…

~ Nigeria currently provides free, comprehensive anti retroviral treatment, care and support to about 170,000 people living with HIV/AIDS.

~ Nigeria has installed capacity to treat much more and we have increased access with treatment centres located in over 250 sites across the landscape of our country.

~ Leadership is required… not just political leadership but governmental, religious, traditional, community, cultural, youth and family. Thus, it involves all of us, you and I.

…An article in the ever popular Nigerian Village Square, by Churchill Okonkwo sees the biggest challenges in the informal sectors – the market men and women, the Road Transport Workers, the street Traders. How do we get then actively involved and informed?

I have not read a more disjointed, ill-informed and error-filled article that that in Nigerian Business Day A taster: “The AIDS pandemic remains the most dreaded disease to afflict mankind in such a devastating manner
that the whole world literally caught cold within its first year of discovery.”

Sadly …sadly the cure claims have not gone away….

“eminent” colleague Dr Abalaka and his cure for AIDS has not gone away…In a recent report by the Science and Development Network, The Nigerian Academy of Science is being sued by the doctor after casting doubt on his unproven claims to have invented a vaccine for HIV.

In most other countries, people that make such claims without proper trials are struck off the medical register at the very least as here

Coincidentally this same week, his compatriot Mr Abdulahi who came on the AIDS scene in Nigeria around the same time has been given lots of newspaper space by The Sun where he contends that the Nigerian government is being led by the nose by Western powers and the United States of America (USA) in believing that the dreaded disease cannot be cured.

…I guess they have all been emboldened by the Gambian President’s claims….

Yet we all seem to keep quiet, scared to criticise these claims…lest we be seen as doubting the prowess of our compatriots!. How long will our governments keep quiet while innocent patients are used as guinea pigs? How long will our press continue giving coverage to these stories without any critical appraisal? Who really cares?

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 (, 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.

Discussion2 Comments

Leave A Reply