Project HOPE, the international health education and humanitarian assistance organization, is taking part in a new five-year program funded primarily by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to help children orphaned and made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS in the states of Ebonyi and Cross River, Nigeria. Project HOPE’s Nigerian affiliate is serving as the lead technical advisor to the program, which is being conducted by Health Initiatives for Safety and Stability in Africa (HIFASS), a Nigerian organization.
The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, the Nigerian government body charged with leading programming for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), estimates that 17.5 million children have been negatively impacted by HIV/AIDS in Nigeria. In Ebonyi and Cross River states, there are more than 300,000 OVC, and that number is projected to rise.
While care and support services are available, they are not comprehensive and are provided inconsistently, largely due to poor coordination and a lack of leadership at the state level. Stigma, discrimination and a lack of knowledge about services create further barriers for the OVC to receive sufficient care in these states.
“We will focus on establishing a ‘coordinated care model’ for orphans and vulnerable children in Cross River and Ebonyi, where the diverse needs of the children can be addressed in a comprehensive and sustainable manner,” said Usman Al-Rashid, Deputy Chief of Party for the program. “These needs include educational support, psychosocial support, food, economic livelihood, child protection, health care support, legal services and shelter.”
The leadership of the new program will reach out to schoolteachers, local leaders, religious leaders, youth groups and other community members to help identify cases of vulnerabilities among children. “Area Care Committees” will be established to coordinate services, and each child will be assigned a trained mentor, who will ensure the child is adequately linked to the full range of services that are offered. This model has proven effective in other Sub-Saharan African countries.
“By the end of the project in five years, at least 310,000 orphans and vulnerable children in 62,000 households will have benefitted from a comprehensive package of services - with half of those children no longer considered ‘vulnerable,’” said Steve Neri, Project HOPE’s Regional Director for Africa.
In addition to the new program in Nigeria, Project HOPE is currently conducting programs to help orphans and vulnerable children in Mozambique and Namibia. These programs emphasize the importance of providing economic opportunities to the children’s caregivers, with the goal of improving the health and wellbeing of the entire households in which they reside.
About Project HOPE
Founded in 1958, Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere) is dedicated to providing lasting solutions to health problems with the mission of helping people to help themselves. Identifiable to many by the SS HOPE, the world’s first peacetime hospital ship, Project HOPE now provides medical training and health education, as well as conducts humanitarian assistance programs in more than 35 countries. Visit our website projecthope.org and follow us on Twitter @projecthope
Geraldine Carroll Tel. 540-257-3746 email@example.com
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