More than 2,000 people living with HIV in Kano and Katsina States are expected to benefit from the community pharmacy initiative by the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) in collaboration with the Association of Community Pharmacists in Nigeria (ACPN) to ease access to HIV medications.
The IHVN Assistant Director, Pharmacy, Mr Yohanna Avong stated this at the launch of the project in Kano on Thursday.
He said with the initiative, adult patients who are stable on HIV medications and not pregnant, could be referred from hospitals to get drug refills from trained community pharmacists of their choice in their communities instead of frequent trips to overcrowded health facilities for drug pick-up.
“Public hospitals that are providing antiretroviral therapy are consistently being congested or they have a high volume of patients. The World Health Organization has recommended the use of structures within the community to provide HIV medications. Some patients travel very long distances to the hospital and this affects their adherence to treatment and overall well-being,” he said.
Avong explained that over 3, 000 people living with HIV in the Federal Capital Territory and Nasarawa States took part in the initiative with great success prompting an extension of the program.
“We have discovered that because we are removing the hardship that people go through in order to get drugs at the hospital level, they are doing very well with low viral load.”
Assistant Director of Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria and Head of Kano Branch, S.S Chiroma said the project was a novel one and would benefit both patients and community pharmacists.
“For the patient, the access will increase while for the caregiver, it also gives him the opportunity to have experience in antiretroviral therapy which will lead to better service to the patient.”
Earlier in a welcome address, Director of Public Relations of the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria, Peter Illya expressed his joy with the initiative saying that the goal was to deliver a HIV free generation to Nigerians.
A Community Pharmacist from Geral-Jo-Calene Pharmacy in Sabon Gari, Kano, Mrs. Agatha Nwachukwu said that the initiative was a welcome development.
“We are happy that community pharmacists are being incorporated into the HIV program. We have now been trained such that a lot of things that we did not know, we now know,” she said.
Abbas Musa from Kainuwa Best Global Pharmacy in Funtua said that he looked forward to the challenge that the job entailed and the opportunity to help people living with HIV in the community.
“It will bring job satisfaction for myself, help impact the patient positively and the community in general.”
The Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria was established in 2004 as a local organisation to address the HIV/AIDS crisis in Nigeria through the development of infrastructure, care, prevention, and support for people living with and those affected by the disease.