Financing for viral hepatitis project: Nigeria
WHA developed the investment case for financing a hepatitis C programme in Nigeria in 2017/18 in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Health Nigeria, Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and our members. Building on this work, in 2022, WHA further developed the project to advocate for greater financing for viral hepatitis programmes.
To address the challenges in scaling-up hepatitis elimination activities, in partnership with our members in Nigeria, we have begun to develop and deliver a project which advocates for greater financing for viral hepatitis programmes. To achieve this the project includes the below three pillars of work:
- Deliver training for WHA members and other advocates to increase their ability to effectively advocate for financing for hepatitis programmes.
- Raise awareness to increase the number of people demanding action by the Federal and State governments.
- Influence policy makers to develop champions within the Federal and State Ministries who can help drive domestic and catalytic financing options forward.
Together these activities will strengthen efforts to unlock financing for viral hepatitis and so ensure that more Nigerians are able to access screening, diagnosis and care.
The story so far
We have developed and delivered online training in the form of two webinars for advocates within the country. The first webinar was delivered by Chukwuemeka Agwuocha, offering engaging insight on the global targets for the elimination of viral hepatitis, the current levels of global investment in viral hepatitis elimination programmes, and the investment case for hepatitis elimination. The second was delivered by Dr Ruth Adabe Bello, offering engaging insight into the different pathways available for testing, treating and preventing viral hepatitis, the cost that testing and treatment incurs, and how we can how help to improve access to treatment for viral hepatitis.
Both webinars are readily available to watch here.
Delivering impact on the ground
In order to effectively raise awareness and influence policy makers we partnered with two of our member organisations from Nigeria, Women and Children Health Empowerment Foundation (WACHEF) from Taraba State, and Care for Social Welfare International (CASWI) from Cross River State. Both organisations shared an aligned vision, with objectives tailored to their States and communities, as seen below:
- To create a budget line for viral hepatitis in the 2024 State budget or possibly in 2023 supplemental budget.
- To ensure the release of at least 80% of the amount budgeted by 2024 and beyond.
- To advocate for sustainable domestic financing for viral hepatitis B and C in Taraba State.
- To reduce the stigma and discrimination faced by people with or at risk of viral hepatitis.
- To enhance greater involvement of five private sectors organization and two implementing partners in financing viral hepatitis by the end of 2023.
- To build the capacity of viral hepatitis B and C focused CBOs on resource mobilization for viral hepatitis.
- To increase the level of awareness among the general public, healthcare providers and elected/appointed government officials in the state on viral hepatitis in the state.
- To increase political will and motivation among parliament members (house committee on Health), Executive arms (Executive governor, Commissioner of Health), traditional and religious leaders to address viral hepatitis funding gap in the in the state.
- To address local myths and misconceptions around hepatitis vaccines and treatment in the face of COVID 19.
- To promote the special bills to fund hepatitis programmes separately outside HIV/AIDs merged funding programmes that are currently in use.
- To help secure the establishment of viral hepatitis help desk across the 18 local Government Area of the General Hospital that has been pending since the introduction of the innovation by CASWI in Collaboration with State Ministry of Health.
A lack of awareness is a significant barrier to hepatitis elimination. It contributes to ongoing stigma and discrimination which can stop people feeling able to speak out. To support CASWI and WACHEF to deliver effective awareness and education campaigns we worked with them to develop a messaging framework that they could then use as part of the project. The creation of materials is currently underway and being locally led to ensure that it is tailored for the intended audience and addresses local myths and misconceptions.
Securing financing requires engagement and commitment from a wide range of stakeholders within Nigeria. Through a careful stakeholder mapping CASWI and WACHEF have identified and begun reaching out to potential champions in all political parties with the aim of creating cross-party support for funding viral hepatitis programmes. Along with stakeholders within the Federal and State governments, they have also identified and are in the process of developing champions in key agencies within their states.