Writing Contest Honorable Mention: Political instability and civil unrest - greatest challenge facing children affected by HIV/AIDS in Nigeria
By Onuh Elaigwu Ezekiel
The failure in the global response to children affected by HIV/AIDS cannot be overcome by simply doing “more of the response”. They point to deep flaws at the heart of the response to date. It has devastated the lives and hopes of millions of children worldwide, including Nigeria. The response from governments and their partners has been hampered by flaws that weaken results where needs are greatest. Well intentioned, but misdirected, efforts drain resources that could be invested in more effective approaches. As a result, despite growing concern and mobilization, the response to children affected by HIV/AIDS falls short of what it should achieve. To date: Their caregivers providing the support to deliver better outcome for children and the children infected with this epidemic are faced with enormous challenges (Reviewed Jay W. Marks, MD; 2012)HIV / AIDS affect virtually every aspect of child development and jeopardizes the enjoyment of children’s rights. They undermine health and schooling, reinforce marginalization and deprivation, and place the burdens of loss, fear and adult responsibility onto the shoulders of children. In Nigeria, it is estimated that 280052 children are infected with HIV (NACA Global HIV/AIDS response progress report 2012).
In Nigeria, there is high conflict and war resulting to destruction of infrastructure, loss or displacement of heads of households and in the case of women or female, they carry disproportionate burden as heads of households. This situation does not allow the necessary conditions required to combat HIV/AIDS. Today, the insecurity conditions have directly affected interventions targeted at combating and mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS, its prevention and therefore further increased vulnerability of children and their households to HIV/AIDS. Political instability and political crisis have an undeniable impact upon children living with HIV/AIDS as the combat against the infection in children can only be effective as much as security of service providers (NGOs, CSOs, and the relevant networks) is guaranteed. The girl child is worse off in the face of the crisis as most have been displaced from their protective layers as a result of the death of either one or both parents, have become heads of households, dropped out of school and are out there searching for daily income to cater to the needs of their siblings. Research has shown that in Asia, displaced people said the spread of HIV/AIDS was by poverty, lack of reproductive services (singh; 2004). In big cities of Nigeria, girl children affected by this illness are faced with the challenge of accepting or exchanging sex for food and money in war affected areas, they become sex workers to earn living because of their social and economic vulnerability, exposed to coercive sex, wide spread rape especially in conflict situation which are serious violation of their fundamental human rights. During this period there is inconsistence in advocacy, ban in travelling for development partners resulting in little or no support for the children.
Children living with HIV often experience many negative changes in their lives and can start to suffer neglect, including emotional neglect, long before they are orphaned. Eventually, they may suffer the emotional trauma that results this period. These psychological problems become more severe if a child is forced to separate from their siblings upon becoming orphaned. As a result of this, children living with HIV/AIDS face serious challenge accessing basic necessities such as shelter, food, clothing, health and education as their family is displaced.
In conclusion, Government of Nigeria should formulate and implement laws through the appropriate agency to curtail the incessant conflict in the nation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Onuh Elaigwu Ezekiel was born on October 25th 1986 indigene of Benue State Nigeria. He is a graduate of Chemical Engineering from Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Bauchi . He attended mount Saint Gabriel's Secondary School Makurdi and currently undergoing my NYSC in Management Sciences for Health under the Community support Project in Abuja. He attends Living Faith church Jikwoyi Abuja.