The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in conjunction with the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) was in University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) to look at the progress made by IHVN so far. Basically, the meeting was to interface with Dr. Ted, the Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) focal person for CDC in Atlanta and Programme Leader. Dr. Ted is in the country to see exactly what IHVN has been able to do so far; assess the challenges and see how ART can support the programme.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Christine, from University of Maryland said the team is in Nigeria (Rivers State) to look at the data infrastructure, data quality improvement and to also support the IHVN. The entire programme she said is about setting up the processes and procedures towards ending the epidemic of HIV in Nigeria.
To lead the team in Nigeria is the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria. Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) plays a major supportive role. The Centre for Disease Control, Atlanta partners with IHVN to ensure they have the data infrastructure they need for success as well as giving ART to anyone identified as having HIV for a healthy long life.
However, the exercise in Nigeria encountered some challenges which include: funding constraints, security, shortage of consumables, shortage of power supply, and knowledge gap of some personnel. Despite these challenges, the team said, they will leave no stone unturned in order to meet the mandated target of identifying 129,000 persons who are HIV positive every month and put them on treatment and care.
Some strategies for combating the epidemic includes: media campaigns; Data Management System being put in place with data monitoring dashboard; engagement of traditional birth attendants for awareness which will enhance safety; engaging indigenous manpower; and involving the State security apparatus to handle security, and training officers to improve their knowledge on the job.
In attendance were representatives from IHVN, CDC, UPTH, Global Health Supply, Obio-Akpor Local Government Area, University of Maryland, ENB.
The team moved round the hospital to check available facilities as well as paying a courtesy call to the Chief Medical Director, UPTH, Prof. Henry A.A. Ugboma.
Event covered by: Omojunikanbi Ngozi, Osuji N., Biebele O.