From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
The World Health Organization WHO has collaborated with the Benue State Government to reactivate COVID-19 response which had before now gone very low in the state.
Representative of WHO, Mr. Israel Popoola who disclosed this while briefing newsmen in Makurdi on Monday evening explained that the organization decided to intervene when it noticed that COVID-19 testing was going down in the state.
He noted that WHO will be making funds available for the intervention in the three major pillars of COVID-19 response including Surveillance, Risk communications and Laboratory.
Popoola further stated that WHO, apart from ensuring that testing is reactivated in the state, would also be organizing training and refresher sensitization sessions for five health personnel in each of the 23 local government areas of the state.
He added that the support would also cover sample collection and shipment from the various local government areas to the two testing centers in the state.
While noting that the support will also cover awareness creation in markets, IDP camps, Cameroonian Refugees camp among others, Popoola reiterated the need for more awareness creation especially on the new COVID-19 variant in the country as well as on myths and superstitions about the COVID-19 vaccines.
“There’s need to sensitize the general public about the fact that COVID-19 is still very much around and people must continue to adhere to all the protocols of social distancing, regular washing of hands, wearing of masks among others.”
On his part, Incident Manager, Risk Communications and state Epidemiologist, Dr. Samuel Ngishe while commending WHO for the intervention, disclosed that there was a gap since the begining of the year because many people were no longer making themselves available for testing.
“Testing has gone down over time in Benue and that’s why WHO is coming in to jumpstart testing in the state. It is hoped that with this intervention, testing will be more rigorous in Benue.”
He assured that the intervention by the WHO would increase testing and sample collection across the 23 local government areas of the state.
Ngishe intimated that 1366 cases of COVID-19 have so far been recorded in the state with over 15,000 person tested so far.
It was further gathered that Benue has so far received 102,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines out of which 60,000 doses have been administered to people.
Also speaking, Dr. Helen Teghtegh from the Risk Communications pillar thanked WHO for relaunching the COVID-19 response in the state.