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HIV/AIDS Fight: Collaboration, Awards, RSG’s Strategy

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Reinforcement, a concept even in Education Psychology posits that an individual be rewarded (reinforced) of a good deed for more of such deeds. It is also said that ‘whatever worth doing is worth doing well’.
The 2017 World AIDS Day commemoration was a true test of these positions as the Rivers State Government in collaboration with development partners in the health sector harnessed its abilities of resources, time and personnel in making the day/event not only memorable but positively challenging stakeholders in the state HIV/AIDS control programme to do more to raise the state beyond the present prevalence status of the disease.
Since the discovery of the disease in 1989, about 28 years ago, and its attendant rapid contraction, spread and fatal nature, there had been struggles and quest globally and locally to end the scourge or even reducing its prevalence to the barest minimum and all hands had been on deck at the international, federal and state levels. Since then, too, there has been world commemorations of the epidemic as in every other epidemic, and marked with activities usually of awareness, sensitisations, call on individual screening and stakeholders in finding ways of living and reducing the risk of contraction and spread even ending the menace. And Rivers State has not been left out in this scheme.
But the 2017 celebration was distinct and marked with a difference. The multipurpose hall of the State Ministry of Justice Complex was agog as individuals, groups, agencies and international organisations bagged different special awards that proved dignified efforts in the state’s HIV/AIDS fight. The event was one that revealed the commitment, loyalty and sacrifice of awardees which catapulted the state to its present reduced zero-prevalence rate, a percentage lower than the national rate. It was yet another programme that proved that collaboration is indeed a key factor in achieving a pursuit of any kind inclusive of the HIV/AIDS menace whether globally or locally.
It was at the event that the Executive Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike bagged the Good Governance/Health leadership Award while the Deputy Governor, Dr (Mrs) Ipalibo Harry-Banigo bagged the HIV/AIDS Control Award particularly of the Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT) alongside the Rivers State Agency for the Control of AIDS (RIVSACA). There were other categories of awards including the ‘Award of Team Spirit’, Pioneer HIV/AIDS Service Award’, Health Development Award bagged by the FH1360 and Global Funds, strong partners of the Rivers State Government in the achievement of health initiative and reforms. There was also the voice of HIV/AIDS Prevention Award bagged by Cool Wazobia FM, Nigeria Info, Silver Bird Rhythm 93.7 and The Tide.
The Award of Support of People Living with AIDS was bagged by the women wing of First Baptist Church, Ada George branch among others . Indeed, it was a ‘well organised’ programme but beyond that was the fact that it boosted the morale and efforts of the dedicated partners to continue in their giant strides as well as a call on others to join in the train to achieving a free HIV/AIDS state.
At the event, the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike ably represented by his deputy, Dr Ipalibo Harry Banigo said “this day is set aside for advocacy, awards and consolidation of the on-going efforts of all stakeholders in the HIV/AIDS control programme. I congratulate all awardees especially the former director of RIVSACA. I know how much work he did in consolidating the efforts of the state government in this fight including the Ministry of Health under the leadership of Princewill Chike and his team for carrying out every activity to ensure that we deal with the menace of HIV/AIDS in Rivers State”.
It is worthy of note that the state government has in the last three years built hospitals and health centres that are providing HIV/AIDS Anti-viral and supportive treatment as well as psychological support that patients no longer view HIV/AIDS diagnosis as a death sentence but that which could be managed thereby leading them to achieve great life and productivity.
This administration has not only insisted on the provision of PMTCT services by every single health facility in the state to end maternal transmission, but also made substantial progress in its community- based testing platform which has added significant value to its case-finding efforts and expanded access to HIV/AIDS services across the state.
Banigo said “we have not had any stock out for our Anti-Retrovirals in Rivers State. This is made possible by the efforts of the AIDS Control programme and our development partners in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
“The government of Rivers State ably led by Governor Wike is so committed and passionate about health care in all ts facets of case-finding, prevention, treatment including people living with AIDS (PLA). He wants to see that they are encouraged to live to the fulfillment of their lives”.
The state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Princewill Chike lauded the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for its provision of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine as installed by the state government at the Braithwaite Specialist Memorial Hospital (BMSH).
Chike said the two PCR machines which are used in the monitoring of mother-to-child transmission, testing of samples of viral infections and detection of viral loads have made the state independent of its HIV/AIDS case-finding and treatment.
“As far as HIV/AIDS control is concerned, Rivers State has gone another level higher by the acquisition of the PCR machine. We no longer go out of the state for sample verification but everything is done here and this is kudos to our partners and state government”.
Chike maintained that with the progress recorded so far in the state’s HIV/AIDS fight, the state was poised to achieve the control target of 90:90:90: by the year 2020 saying “this means that 90 percent of people living with HIV/AIDS are diagnosed, 90 percent of those diagnosed receive treatment and 90 percent of those with Anti-retroviral therapy receive viral suppression at least by the year 2020. That is our focus”.
He also revealed that the zero prevalence rate of the disease in the state has reduced to 5.8 percent, describing it as small but significant compared to the 6.0 percent of the 2014 national survey. This is made possible through the 119 established centres involved in the management of the epidemic with about 91 treatment centres across the state.
Also apt was the theme of the year’s commemoration-‘My Health, My Right’ which resonates around the right to health services, access to social services and importance of individual behavioural knowledge and practice in order to keep healthy. Simply put, the right to health was the right to all including people living with AIDS (PLA) and of course, Rivers State has achieved this.
Yet, the fight continues. There is the need for more deliberate efforts in organising awareness, sensitisation and education programmes to encourage people to embrace screening. Stakeholders are also called upon not to relent in their efforts. “I want to say that our stakeholders should continue to support us in this state. Don’t look at us as an Orphan state. We still need you as we on our part will also continue to do our best in this beat”, Banigo said.
As a way of continuity and achievement of the desired goal, there is the need for the promotion of a state and or society that is totally devoid of stigmatisation and discrimination against those living with the virus.
More so, to consolidate the HIV/AIDS fight in the state, it is imperative that there be a maximum utilisation of health services as well as ordering the social determinants that impede individuals and communities in their quest for health services even in the face of HIV/AIDS epidemic in the state.

 

Lady Godknows Ogbulu

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Commissioner Lauds Navy On Covid-19 Containment

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Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, has lauded efforts made so far by the Naval Command at Borokiri, Port Harcourt, towards checking the trend of the Covid-19 pandemic in the State.
Making the commendation recently when the naval medical team paid him a courtesy call in his office, the commissioner stated that the state government and Rivers people appreciate the fact that the naval health facility is made accessable to people living in their environment and beyond.
“The  Rivers State Government appreciates all your effort aimed at curbing the spread of the Corona Virus in line with your corporate social responsibility for host communities in the state by making your (health) facility accessible”, he said.
Prof Chike continued that, “the job of every health personnel is humanitarian. Lives of citizens of our country are paramount and should therefore not be compromised”.
While assuring that the state government is doing everything possible to fight the spread of the pandemic, the commissioner stated that he’ll personally pay occasional visits to the naval healthcare facility, and also assured of the preparedness of the state ministry of health to partner with other private healthcare delivery services.
“The State Ministry of Health (MOH) is committed in partnering with other private health facilities in the state to curb the spread of the ravaging pandemic”, he said.
Speaking earlier, the Commander, Naval Medical Centre Borikiri, Navy Captain U. O. Nzeribe-Agbangwu, said the navy health services were not restrained to its personnel but extended to other individuals who need to access the facility for heart care. 
The commander said, “over 70 percent of our patients are civilians, and, in line with our corporate social responsibility, we constructed a borehole for supply of water to the host community”.
Nzeribe-Agbangwu also expressed satisfaction over the support the Naval healthcare facility got from the ministry in the heat of the pandemic in 2020.

By: Sogbeba Dokubo

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Covid-19: Pregnant Woman, 15 Others Die In Edo

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The Edo State Government has confirmed the death of a 33-year-old pregnant woman at Stella Obasanjo Hospital in Benin and 15 other persons across other Covid-19 facilities.
Head of the state’s Coronavirus Case Management, Dr Ebomwonyi Osagie, who disclosed this at the daily press briefing on the virus, however, said that the victims were not vaccinated.
“This particular patient came in and died about three hours after presentation at the Stella Obasanjo Hospital; late presentation is a major issue in managing crisis.
“She is about 28 weeks pregnant, already having pre-eclampsia, so, the debate is actually if it is the pre-eclampsia that killed her or Covid-19.
“The woman has Covid-19, which pushed her more toward developing pre-eclampsia and then death. Some other women have pre-eclampsia and are successfully managed.
“Late presentation is an issue, because the patient died three hours after presentation, which means that there is little that would have been done to manage the situation, so, we are appealing to private hospitals to let patients go very early for treatment.
“So far, a total of 537 samples were collected, with a total of 1,004 confirmed cases, 103 recovered and were discharged and 16 deaths recorded within 48hours.
“We have 70 people in admission, 296 people in home care, 344 discharged and 50 deaths, since the outbreak of the pandemic,” Osagie said.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr Osamwonyi Irowa, said that the cases were rising, with more people being admitted, just as the state was recording very high mortality from COVID-19.
Irowa further said that vaccination was fighting the pandemic and appealed to residents to avail themselves the opportunity of taking COVID-19 vaccines made available by the Federal and state governments.

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Agency Trains 40 Health Officers On Emergency Response

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The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US-CDC) on Monday kicked off a two-week capacity building programme in Lagos for Nigerian experts on public health emergency response.
The training seeks to certify the first cohort of 40 participants drawn from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), state-level ministries of health, Nigeria Port Health Services, and  Nigerian military in the Public Health Emergency Management Professional Certification (PHEM PC).
The US-CDC Nigeria Country Director, Mary Boyd, said: “The devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic illustrates now more than ever the importance of ensuring the public health and health care systems can adequately prevent, respond to, and recover from health emergencies.
“Particularly those whose scale, timing, or unpredictability threatens to overwhelm routine capabilities,”  a statement by the mission in Lagos, quoted.
The Tide source reports that PHEM PC training, a first of its kind in Nigeria, adapted from US-CDC Atlanta, equips emergency managers, incident managers, state epidemiologists, first responders, watch managers, and other public health experts with the knowledge, competencies and skill sets they need to respond to public health emergencies.
During the intensive programme, participants will receive specialised training in crisis and emergency risk communication as well as public health emergency management functions and operations.
The PHEM training is part of the U.S. Government’s efforts to support pandemic preparedness globally.
The US-CDC, NCDC, and Georgetown University are collaborating to deliver this training.
In 2019, Nigeria became a Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) partner country committed to achieving GHSA 2024 targets and International Health Regulations (IHR) requirements.
US-CDC supports the Government of Nigeria (GON) to achieve these targets by strengthening workforce development, surveillance, emergency response, and laboratory capacity among other areas.

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