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Access Bank’s fight against HIV/AIDS

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Access Bank’s fight against HIV/AIDS

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In this piece, Mofifoluwa Ayokunnumi Olawumi (on behalf of Access Bank), takes us through the decade-long journey of Access Bank’s relationship with one of Africa’s most-dreaded diseases: HIV/AIDS. The organization’s premeditated decision in making sustainable moves towards combating the HIV/AIDS virus has set a high standard for other African institutions in the private sector.

Since 2008, Access Bank Plc has benchmarked its business practices and operations against international best practices as a means of shaping its strategy and decision-making processes.  In line with this, the Bank’s approach to sustainability including social and health investment aligns with globally accepted practices. In view of this, Access Bank Plc in 2012 reaffirmed its commitment to continually promote sustainability, health and welfare amongst its employees and other stakeholder groups. Accordingly, innovative initiatives which effectively address key social and welfare issues within the Bank and its immediate communities have been delivered. The workplace policy program on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was initiated and implemented across all Access Bank offices in Nigeria and the subsidiaries. The bank further extended the program implementation to over 3,000 SMEs across Africa. 

Additionally, Access Bank Plc announced a donation of $1 million to the Global Fund for the fight against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. This donation was made under an initiative, tagged “Gift from Africa” aimed at raising funds from the African private sector to address critical health challenges in Africa. The Bank’s donation was redeemable over a 3-year period (2010 – 2012), with the first pay-out made in 2010. This corporate action from Access Bank Plc represents the first of its kind from an indigenous African private sector company to combat the triple pandemic of AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria under the umbrella of the Global Fund. This responsibility was undertaken by the Sustainability unit, in partnership with Friends of the Global Fund Africa and under the leadership of the GMD/CEO and the Board of Directors. The then Access Bank Group Managing Director/CEO, strongly believed that “the Gift from Africa project provides the Bank with an opportunity to lead other African private sector institutions and demonstrate to the world that Africans are prepared to share the responsibility for solving Africa’s challenges”. He led the bank’s effort to become a significant partner of the Global Fund and other international development organisations.  

Access Bank leverages internationally recognized days such as World Health Day, World Malaria Day, World Tuberculosis Day, World AIDS Day and others in line with the declared theme, to deliver targeted awareness and outreach programs in various communities. The bank also communicates and promotes significant policies and initiatives internally and externally through traditional and digital media platforms to all relevant stakeholders on these days. These are done in partnership with organisations such as HACEY Health Initiative, Corporate Alliance on Malaria in Africa (CAMA), Nigerian Business Coalition Against AIDS (NIBUCAA), Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PHN) and other NGO partners.

Employees are actively engaged in our health interventions as educators, community mobilisers and health promoters. They have previously worked with us on our malaria, HIV and eye care programs. Employees have also worked together to design water, sanitation and hygiene program for under-served communities across Nigeria.

Herbert Wigwe the GMD/CEO, Access Bank Plc sits as Co-Chair, Nigerian Business Coalition Against AIDS (NIBUCAA)., taking significant efforts and making progress to fight HIV/AIDS, prevent new infections and reduce transmission of the pandemic among people in Nigeria. The Nigerian Business Coalition against AIDS (NiBUCAA) is a network of companies working together to help member-companies and others to develop workplace programmes for preventing and combating HIV/AIDS in Nigeria. The coalition is set up to support businesses to implement HIV & AIDS work programs and tro position member’s individually and collectively to contribute to the national response to the HIV pandemic. To this end, in February 2019, Access Bank conducted HIV Voluntary Counseling & Testing (VCT) at the 2019 Access Bank Lagos City Marathon. 2,620 people were tested and counseled, over 850,000 Nigerians were reached with HIV prevention messages via online and physical activities before, during and after the Access Bank Lagos City marathon and whilst over 7,000 condoms were distributed.

  • For 2019 World AIDS Day, HACEY Health Initiative came together with NYSC with the support of Access Bank to educate and offer HIV Testing and Counselling services in Kairo Market Oshodi and NYSC camp Lagos on to commemorate the UN’s World AIDS Day.

Summary

  • Number of people counselled- Male 362 Female 459
  • Number of people tested- Male 297 Female 403
  • Number tested: Negative- 695, positive- 5
  • Two out of three positive knew their status before the day. We referred the three other positive people to government-supported facility.
  • 1690 young people viewed the movie
  • Social media and traditional media: We reached over 2 million Nigerians through social and traditional media platforms which include newspapers, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and online blogs.

Counselling and Testing 

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Social mobilization for HIV counselling and testing was carried out to provide people in Kairo market Oshodi and Lagos State NYSC camp with adequate information and support about all aspects of HIV counselling and testing. An important aspect of the mobilization that was carried out was providing HIV information through information, education and communication (IEC) materials and one on one engagement. Voluntary testing of young persons was carried out using standard procedures and kits. Confidentiality of results and individuals was maintained. Cases of sexual transmitted infections and HIV were referred to health facilities for management. Voluntary counselling was carried out by trained counsellors who maintained high level of professionalism and confidentiality. All questions asked were according to standard HIV counselling procedure. Corp members and camp officials in camp were also reached with information and free HIV Testing and counselling in Iyana Ipaja, Lagos State through a film show on a movie titled “Inside Story” 

About Movie 

“Inside Story” tells the story of Kalu, a gifted football star whose journey to soccer stardom is complicated when he learns that he is HIV-positive. What follows is an entertaining and educational ride that follows Kalu and the virus within his young body. The movie was screened at the NYSC orientation camp, Iyana Paja, Lagos State on the 1st of December, 2018. Following the HIV counselling and testing program that was implemented the same day, the movie was screened to further enlighten young people on the potential risks, perceived vulnerability to HIV, myths surrounding the spread of HIV and to describe the dynamics of the virus in the human body. Highlights of the screening included a question and answer session and a short lecture.

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