By Ochiaka Ugwu
United States as a long term friend of Nigeria, and through USAID and other agencies, is working tirelessly to partner with the government and people of Nigeria to reduce extreme poverty, Promote a healthier, more prosperous, better educated and peaceful Nigeria, USAID Mission Director in Nigeria, Mr. Stephen M. Haykin has said.
Haykin who made this known yesterday during the closing ceremony of USAID ‘LOPIN 3’ Activity in Abuja said that Through LOPIN 3 and its sister activities, USAID has provided care and support for more than half million children orphaned or otherwise affected by HIV.
“For the first time since the outbreak of the epidemic, control of the HIV epidemic in Nigeria is a real possibility, and the United States will continue to support this effort.
“In Nigeria, young people are the future. By helping this vulnerable cohort of the country’s youth get access to health care and education, we boost its economic resilience. The U.S. Government through USAID is partnering with the Government of Nigeria to fulfill its commitment to ensure the next generation is ready for the challenges ahead” he said.
He said the activity was funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. The United Slates’ leading humanitarian and development assistance agency.
“LOPIN 3 was a particularly important activity as it focused on some of the most vulnerable Nigerians of all orphans and other children affected by the presence of HIV and AIDS in their communities.
“Over the last five years, the activity has operated at the community level and was managed by indigenous non-governmental organizations in Akwa Ibom, Cross River Ebonyi, Adamawa and Kano states.
“Implemented by Health Initiatives for Safety and Stability in Africa (HlFASS), LOPIN 3 has provided more than 184.000 vulnerable children and their households with protection, care and support services since 2014. It has also provided critically needed assistance to 48.000 of these vulnerable children‘s caregivers.
“These services included education, health care services, nutrition and food security, psychosocial support, household economic strengthening and legal protection.
“The activity helped these populations obtain equitable access to quality health services and helped community health systems become more responsive to their needs.
“LOPIN 3 referrals provided access to life-saving health care and improved access to community-based social welfare services. This approach not only increased access to health services, but also inspired thousands to seek the care they needed to strengthen family resilience in vulnerable households.
“In addition, block grants have helped vulnerable children access schools~ assisting thousands of children‘s academic progress while providing equal opportunity for girls and boys.
“LOPIN 3’s fully integrated approach not only protected young people from the stigma of being associated with the HIV virus, but also helped eliminate the perception of people living with HIV as anything less than vibrant” Haykin said.