Nigeria launches postal service campaign for HIV awareness
21 October 2009
To mark World Post Day on 9 October, Nigeria held a national launch of a global awareness campaign in collaboration with the Universal Postal Union, UNAIDS, the ILO and UNI Global.
Nigeria’s Minister of State for Information and Communication, Mr Alhaji Aliyu Ikra Bilbis, launched the campaign by calling for the involvement of more stakeholders to support the government in the AIDS response in a comprehensive manner, adding, “Nigeria has demonstrated dynamism in the response to HIV.”
While congratulating Nigeria Post (Nipost) on its latest effort towards contributing to achieving the Millennium Development Goal of halting and reversing the spread of HIV by 2015, UNAIDS Country Coordinator Dr Warren Naamara said, “Nigeria has shown her commitment to achieving this MDG goal, but there is still a need to get more stakeholders and players on board so that the country’s response to HIV reaches even more people.”
The postal network has an extremely wide outreach; it is open to everyone from the young to the old and is an excellent and innovative way to raise awareness about how to prevent HIV.
UNAIDS Executive Director Mr Michel Sidibé
Dr Naamara encouraged Nipost to collaborate with the country’s National Agency for the Control of AIDS and the State Agencies for the Control of HIV to build a sustainable comprehensive multi-sectoral response to HIV and AIDS.
This innovative campaign provides post office visitors and employees with important information about how to prevent HIV through a series of eye-catching posters and hand-outs. The materials also give the address of a multi-language website on HIV prevention, hosted by UNAIDS, which provides detailed information about how to prevent infection.
The campaign in Nigeria is part of the first phase in a series of similar drives undertaken by the participating agencies in six other countries: Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, China, Estonia and Mali. The countries were chosen because of their HIV prevalence rates and to give a broad geographical spread. Nigeria has an HIV prevalence of 3.1% and ranks second only to South Africa in terms of the number of people living with HIV.
UNAIDS Executive Director Mr Michel Sidibé has commended the campaign for its innovativeness, saying, “The postal network has an extremely wide outreach; it is open to everyone from the young to the old and is an excellent and innovative way to raise awareness about how to prevent HIV.”
During the first phase, nearly 24,000 post offices in seven countries are displaying and distributing information materials with more UPU member countries expected to join later. For the second phase, ILO is preparing a toolkit for postal employers to inform their staff about HIV. UNI Global, a global union which brings together over 900 trade unions representing over 15 million members worldwide, is working closely with the postal departments and trade unions for this phase. The third phase is planned for 2011, where the UPU will invite its member countries to issue a stamp to commemorate the identification of AIDS in 1981.
In many parts of the world, post offices already have a social role by promoting public health messages within their community. Over the next three years, the campaign will be expanded globally, potentially making its way into 600,000 post offices worldwide. This would mean that millions of people who use postal services every day as well as the 5.5 million postal employees worldwide would receive important information about how to prevent HIV transmission.