Chris Attoh, Uti Nwachukwu, Beverly Naya Others Gather For Shuga Launch In Nigeria

Some of Nigeria’s finest celebrities came together for the launch of MTV Staying Alive Foundation campaign,Shuga, the globally acclaimed, award-winning TV drama about sex, youth and relationships.

MTV Base and MTV Staying Alive Foundation have joined forces with the Nigerian government’s National Agency for the Control of AIDS and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to combat a lack of awareness and misinformation about HIV, sexual responsibility and teen pregnancy among Nigerian youth, using the medium of Shuga, MTV’s award winning TV series and multimedia campaign.  PEPFAR (The US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) has also expressed the intention to join forces with the campaign.

The event which held at the WheatBaker Hotel on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 had top bosses in the entertainment and health sectors like Alex Okosi, Senior Vice President & Managing Director, Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) Africa, Georgia Arnold, Executive Director, MTV Staying Alive Foundation, Emmanuel Alhassan, Director, Resource Mobilisation for the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Mairo Mandara, Nigeria Country Representative, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a and Dr Okey Nwanyanwu, CDC Country Director, Nigeria among many others.

Alex Okosi, Senior Vice President & Managing Director, VIMN Africa expressed his excitement on the launch of the series in Nigeria, “MTV Base is proud and excited to bring Shuga to Nigeria for the first time.  We are delighted that this award-winning series and multimedia campaign will be using its muscle to shine a light on important public health issues affecting youth, and promoting meaningful behaviour change while leveraging Nigerian creativity and talent.”

Other guests at the launch include CEO Beat FM, Deji Awokoya, Olisa Adibua, Chris Attoh, Gbenro Ajibade, IllBliss, Uti Nwachukwu, Alex Ekubo, Beverly Naya, Oreka Goddis, Eku Edewor, Tosyn Bucknor, Toke Makinwa, Jumai Shaba among others.

Executive Director, MTV Staying Alive Foundation, Georgia Arnold also spoke on the initiative behind the launch, “We aim to strike a chord with young Nigerians and provoke a significant shift in their attitudes and behaviour towards sexual health and associated public health issues.  Combining these messages with stylish production, poignant storylines, believable characters and world class acting allows Shuga to sweeten the pill and make an impact where other campaigns may have failed to resonate in the past.”

“Bringing Shuga to Nigeria is a very smart move as youths in Nigeria need to take the importance of sexual health seriously and using this medium to push this message as well as using Nigerian acts to create real life situations is a smart move.”Nollywood actor, Beverly Naya said at the event.

Emmanuel Alhassan, Director, NACA commented, ”The Nigerian government is delighted to support this important youth education initiative which complements our on-going education projects at all levels of society.  Shuga’s subtle messaging will not only ensure greater understanding of HIV prevention and treatment measures among young people but communicate important messages about tolerance and acceptance”.

“Efforts such as Shuga that seek to expand knowledge about HIV among young people are critical to helping us achieve an AIDS-free generation. Raising awareness is key to keeping this and future generations healthy and able to lead productive lives,” commented Shirley A. Dady, PEPFAR Country Coordinator, Nigeria.

Fusing public health messaging with gripping story lines, Shuga is part of a powerful 360-degree mass media campaign designed to raise awareness about HIV prevention and teen pregnancy in Nigeria, after research highlighted widespread ignorance about or indifference to contraception, poor access to contraceptives, a significantly high incidence of mother-to-child HIV transmission, and gender-based violence in the region.

The series will premiere on MTV Base (DStv Channel 322), Nigerian terrestrial broadcasters and other MTV networks and third party broadcasters around the world from World AIDS Day (1 December 2013).  Other elements of the Shuga campaign will include a radio drama series, a peer educator programme, a comic book in Hausa and English, a mobile information service, social media and a range of digital platforms.

To continue the conversation about Shuga, please like Shuga on www.facebook.com/MTVShuga, or follow Shuga on Twitter @MTVShuga using the hashtag #shuganaija.

Shuga is to be produced by MTV Base and the MTV Staying Alive Foundation in collaboration with NACA, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund).  Other partners include Girl Hub, a partnership between the Nike Foundation and the UK’s Department of International Development (DFID) which helps transform the lives of adolescent girls living in poverty by engaging the girls themselves as active participants.  PEPFAR (The US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) has also expressed a commitment to join forces with the campaign.