A new DREAM centre recently opened its doors in Kubwa, a suburb of Abuja, the administrative capital of Nigeria. The centre is run by the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity in collaboration with the Community of Sant’Egidio. It is situated right besides a hospital of the Vincentian Sisters and is equipped with a screening facility and molecular biology laboratory.
The just opened DREAM centre is the first one planned for this large and populous Anglophone country in western Africa (it is said there are more than 130 million inhabitants) with an HIV prevalence rate estimated to be around 5.4% (which means seven million HIV-positive people).
So DREAM has already drawn many patients, more than 300 for the moment. They have known for some time that they are HIV-positive but they could not afford to seek treatment. Two of the pillars of DREAM services in Africa are that treatment is free-of-charge and accessible and this has revealed to be a fitting response to the silent anticipation of many.
One of the main objectives of the new DREAM centre – in agreement with Nigeria’s National Health Service – is to reach as many pregnant women as possible to be able to launch a radical programme of prevention of vertical transmission (from mother to child) of the HIV virus.
The DREAM team is composed of 16 members of staff who followed our formation courses in Mozambique and Malawi. They are throwing themselves into their work with enthusiasm and are all proud to work for a centre of excellence and to be able to treat patients with professionalism and visible results.
A group of sick people has already started to meet once every 15 days. They talk about the disease, health education, stigma, and how to win over fear, for themselves and for others. We participated in one of their meetings and we told them how DREAM was born, about patients in other countries and the campaigners’ association.
The space occupied by the centre run by the Daughters of Charity truly aims to be an oasis of hope within the large Kubwa neighbourhood.