From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Benue State Ministry of Health and Human Services says it is aiming at achieving zero prevalence of HIV/AIDS when the 2021Annual Operational Plan for Benue State Health Sector Response is fully implemented.
Director, Public Health, Dr. Terna Kur stated this at the review of 2020 Annual Operational Plan, (AOP) and the development of the 2021 (AOP) for Health Sector Response in the state supported by Global Funds in collaboration with FHI-three-sixty, Achieving Health Nigeria Initiative AHNI and Benue State Government held in Otukpo.
The Director who was represented by his Deputy, Dr. Terver Tule, said significant improvement was made in the 2020 Annual Operational Plan that when replicated in the current plan the state would attain UNAIDS and NAIS target of 95 95 95 which is total epidemic control.
According to him the state was close to the target pointing out that already ninty-three percent have known their HIV AIDS status, ninty three percent are also on effective Anti-retroviral drugs treatment while eighty-two percent have viral load suppression as at June 2020.
He said the state dropped from ten percent prevalence rate to 4.9 and has also implemented successfully forty out of its sixty-two activities representing sixty-four point five percent implementation rate in the outgoing AOP despite the COVID-19 lockdown.
“We are hoping that with the 2021 AOP we will do better”, he stated.
The Director Public Health also said 188,000 persons in the state were already on treatment adding that it was the shared responsibility of the Benue Public for things partners and government were preaching are done by them.
“We can only achieve this if the citizens are willing to come out to test and agree to be on treatment, then Benue will attain zero transmission in the next phase”, Doctor Kur explained.
He attributed the feat to the enabling environment provided by the government saying its arms are open to more partners in the fight against HIV AIDS and enjoined the partners to do nothing for them without them for both of them to be on one page.
Also Speaking, Coordinator HIV AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases Control Programme SASCAP Doctor Gabriel Anefu explained that the programme employed strategies for continuous service delivery to patients during lockdown occasioned by COVID-19.
“We employed strategies like multi-months dispensing of the drugs, we give the drugs to clients 3 months, 4 months, some 6 months.
“We also brought community model where we have some places, some pharmacies, patent vendors identified within community where we positioned this anti-retroval drugs where some clients access within community, so that they don’t have to come to facility.” He added.
Doctor Anefu lamented that Benue was contributing 16% of new infections for babies that are born by HIV AIDS infected mothers.
He commended AHNi for supporting 8 Comprehensive sites in the state and 58 Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission PMCT sites as Catch Up Plan.
According to him, the Comprehensive sites which provide HIV testing services, Treatment care, support PMCT and laboratory services are found at Madonna Hospital, General Hospitals in Gboko, Katsina Ala, Tse-agberagba, Lessel and Oju as well as Comprehensive Health Center Adi and Saint Elizabeth Hospital Vandeikya.
The State State Coordinator of SACAP expressed satisfaction with partners and State Government in implementation of the programme.
He said “AHNi through Global Funds has done excellently well and together with Pifer who is supporting APIN Public Health Initiative to implement HIV AIDS programme in the state.”
Others who spoke separately including HIV AIDS Prevention Officer with Benue State Aids Control Agency (BENSACA), Regina Ameh and Chairman Nigerian Medical Association, Dr. Samuel Otene promised to work in collaborative manner to bring down HIV AIDS prevalence in the state.