Australia Awardee – focusing on Nigeria’s maternal and child health services to fight the HIV epidemic

Improvements achieved by health intervention programs, such as those targeting HIV, are difficult to sustain without an overall improvement in the country’s health system, according to Nigerian doctor, Ms Oluwakemi Akagwu.

Recipient of an Australia Awards Scholarship to study a Master of International Public Health at the University of Sydney, Dr Akagwu says she will use Australian knowledge to improve her country’s health services, specifically in relation to increasing access to HIV prevention and treatment, particularly for pregnant women and children.

With a focus on prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, Dr Akagwu said on her return home in 2015 she would explore how to upscale the integration of HIV prevention and treatment into pediatric services in Nigeria in order to accelerate progress in cutting down on new infections in children.

Speaking on World AIDS Day she said: “It’s a tragedy to have a child acquire HIV when we have scientific knowledge to prevent this from happening. I look forward to taking up a job which will enable me to use knowledge gained in Australia to improve on HIV-related strategies, including looking at innovative ways to engage communities, health providers and policy makers to achieve better results than we presently have in Nigeria.”

With approximately 24.7 million people in sub-Saharan Africa living with HIV, the Australian Government’s commitment to fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS on the continent, and reducing the stigma associated with it, is underlined by its investment in Australia Awards Scholarships and Fellowships.

Australia Awards is training more African health professionals to assist in the prevention and management of HIV/AIDS in their countries through the provision of Masters-level scholarships with a focus on public health.

For more information on how Australia Awards assists in the fight against HIV in Africa, click here

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