Meet the Members – Aniedi Akpan, DAPHO, Nigeria

Name: Aniedi Akpan
Location: Uyo, Nigeria
Job title:

Executive Director, Drug Free and Preventive Healthcare Organization
(DAPHO) and Chairperson, Drug Harm Reduction and Advocacy Network, Nigeria
Specialisms: Harm reduction, peer support.

In this month’s Meet the Members we meet Aniedi Akpan who is a member of the INHSU Community Committee, helping to shape the content for INHSU 2022 conference, and ensure the voice of the community is heard throughout. Aniedi is an outspoken advocate for people who use drugs in Nigeria and has recently spoken at events including ‘How the Global HIV Response can Transform Drug Policy‘, a side event for the 65th Commission on Narcotic Drugs, organised by the International Network of People Who Use Drugs (INPUD).


Tell us a bit about your background and what you do.

I am a person with lived experience of drug use and have also worked with the community for many years. In 2013/2014 in Akwa Ibom State, I started a drug user organization where I led peers to help sensitize other peers around issues related to the 2015 elections. At the time, people with lived experiences were often being used for political gain and there was a need to educate peers around this.
Through this peer work, in 2014 we came into contact with Heartland Alliance Nigeria, which was implementing the Global Fund “Expanding Key Populations Intervention in Nigeria (EKPIN)” project. This project built our organizational capacity to implement drug user programs and also introduced us to the concept of harm reduction. That was the first time I heard of the term.
Drug Free and Preventive Healthcare Organization (DAPHO) was registered with the government on June 15, 2015 and I was appointed the Executive Director by the Board. We were the first drug user-led peer organization in Nigeria. We undertake harm reduction activities but were recently one of three organizations that piloted the Needle and Syringe Program in Nigeria.
I currently serve as the two-term Chairperson and I am also a member of the National Technical Working Group on Drug Demand and Harm Reduction of the Federal Ministry of Health.

What is the most important issue facing people who use drugs in Nigeria and why?

As with many countries, the biggest issues are:
  • Stigma
  • Social and Economic Discrimination
  • Criminalization
There is also a lack of access to comprehensive harm reduction services, which are integral to the health and well-being of people who use drugs across Nigeria.

What is the current situation in Nigeria in terms of hepatitis C and other harms related to drug use?

There is an assumed high prevalence of HCV among People who Inject Drugs in Nigeria. The HIV prevalence according to the 2020 Integrated Behavioural and Biological Surveillance Survey is 10.7% among people who inject drugs. There is no current data on HCV prevalence among PWID in Nigeria. But, a 2013 study of the prevalence of HIV, hepatitis B and C, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among male injection drug users (N = 328) in Lagos which involved testing for hepatitis C antibody (HCV) showed a prevalence rate of 7.7%.
In terms of the general health of people who use drugs, self-stigma often prevents people from accessing services made available for them. 

What do you think can be done to improve this?


  1. Policies that promote non-stigmatization and non-discrimination of people based on their drug use habits
  2. Social and Economic Integration of people who use drugs into Government plans
  3. Decriminalization of drug possession for personal use
  4. Availability and access to community-based, gender-sensitive, non-discriminatory and comprehensive harm reduction for people who use drugs
  5. There is also a need to integrate psychosocial services and counselling into services for people who use drugs
If you would like to be featured in our Meet the Member series, contact INHSU at [email protected]. You can become a member (with free and discounted rates available for students, nurses, allied health, people with lived experience and low-middle-income countries, here). 
Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.
Sign up to our monthly newsletter