Almost 22 years ago, the West Africa AIDS Foundation (WAAF) was registered in Ghana. This was a period where there were hardly any organizations committed to the fight against HIV in Ghana nor West Africa for that matter.
WAAF therefore, was an ambitious goal. It was an organization meant to do anything in its power to fight HIV within the West African Sub region. The plan was to set the head-office in Accra and subsequently get physical presence in other West African countries that will enable provision of universal HIV interventions across the subregion. Putting theory into practice however, turned out to need much more time as what it would take to have physical presence in multiple countries requires much more effort than had been anticipated.
WAAF decided to stay focused and concentrate on making impact in Ghana and rather gradually add on other countries.
Over the years, with the springing up of likeminded entities in other countries, WAAF has been able to from Ghana, provide support to efforts of these entities for a common goal in the fight against HIV. This led to working relations with organizations fighting HIV and based in Ivory Coast, Togo, Sierra Leone, and Senegal which have over the years together complemented each other’s efforts in the area.
With over 20 years of experience in the areas of HIV and TB in Ghana, WAAF feels it is time to have physical presence in selected West African countries to enable it share lessons learnt over the years, scale up interventions that have worked thereby contributing more effectively to reaching HIV and TB epidemic control in the sub region.
Nigeria and Mali have been selected to be the first countries for WAAF to have physical presence. Nigeria because of the similarities in HIV parameters such as a low prevalence of 1.4% amongst adults age 15 – 49 years necessitating innovative strategies within the last mile towards epidemic control. Complimenting efforts in Nigeria and vice versa will be beneficial to both countries. Hence WAAF’s registration in Nigeria which was finalized in February of 2021. WAAF Nigeria will be known as West Africa Health Foundation (WAHF) to provide more room for integration of HIV related services into other equally important health areas, which fits in more with efforts toward Universal Health Coverage, another important goal for West Africa. WAAF-Ghana is extremely excited about this achievement of registering in Nigeria and looks forward to working with stakeholders in Nigeria to reach both HIV/TB epidemic controls and Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Next on the agenda is Mali where the groundwork for registration is already underway and where WAAF hopes soon to have physical presence as well. More to follow on this registration as well as next steps in terms of actual HIV and TB service delivery in these West African counties by the WAAF led group of implementers.