Dr. Akando Ikpeazu is Line Ministries Consultant for the National Action Committee on AIDS (NACA) As the coordinator of activities of the 17 line ministries at the Federal level currently working on HIV/AIDS programmes in the country, she provides technical assistance for development of their work plans and other basic activities that have to do with HIV/AIDS. She comments on her role. Excerpts:
Within each ministry is a project team for HIV/AIDS. It is this team that we primarily relate with in terms of the programmes but because of the structure in the public sector. Beyond working with the ministries as individual ministries, we are trying to promote the sectoral approach with involves coordination of all activities being done as efforts. Currently there is a joint effort with the transport sector which is very important in the HIV/AIDS transmission because it deals with the mobile population that is quite vulnerable. It is a multi-sectoral thing. We have an implementation plan and strategy involving the Federal Ministry of Transport which is the key ministry and the Federal Ministry of Works that is responsible for providing road transport infrastructure.
There are the construction workers who are vulnerable because they stay in camp and live away from home. We also collaborate with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development because of their role in providing rural infrastructure, and also the role of rural communities. Rural development has a major role to play in the number of rural, semi-urban and urban junction towns where a lot of interaction goes on. Then there is the Federal Ministry of Aviation which is the only transport area not represented by the Federal Ministry of Transport which takes care of road, sea and road transport.
On the ministry level in the recent past, the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Transport are conducting sensitization for all cadres of staff. The Ministry of Aviation is doing a similar activity while the Finance Ministry did a similar thing recently. The Federal Ministry of labour and productivity has developed a national workplace policy for HIV/AIDS that is now in the process of being officially taken up as the policy for the nation. A few other ministries like Internal Affairs and Education have developed sectoral HIV/AIDS workplace policies.
One of the biggest challenges of the response strategy is that a number of people interested in HIV/AIDS work do not actually have the capacity to implement their programmes. There is also the challenge of funding. Right now, none of the ministries has a budget specifically for HIV/AIDS. However, we are advocating for this already and this is what the finance ministry hopes to bring to bear in the multi-sectoral approach.