James Sowole in Abeokuta
Determined to check mother to child transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the state and ensure treatment, the Ogun State Ministry of Health through the State Agency for Control of AIDS (OGSACA), has started relating with Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) in order to expand test to pregnant women that are not accessing Anti Natal Care (ANC), in government recognised facilities.
The State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Tomi Coker, disclosed this at a news conference to commemorate the Year 2022 World AIDS Day, with the theme “Equalise” breaking into
Equalise to End AIDS; Equal Access To Prevention; Equal Access To Treatment.”
Coker, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Kehinde Oladehinde, said it has been realised that many women, were running away from registering at the government approved health facilities, for anti-natal care.
He said the fact that there are still prevalence of mother to child transmission of HIV, means that initial efforts were not achieving desired results because many pregnant women still patronise TBAs
The commissioner said it was through several efforts aimed at testing more people by adopting various channels, that made identification of over 5,000 new cases, this year in the state, possible.
She said: “We are doing what we call targeted testing, where we test people we can refer to as high risk, we are also doing community testing, we are also doing one stop shop, where people, who cannot just walk into any health care facilities because of stigmatization and discrimination, get tested. So we are providing environment, where they can just walk in and do the test. This is where we are able to get like 5000 out of them this year.
“It is a great effort and we must appreciate the government for that effort, if we are not doing this all this 5,000 people will just be roaming about and be spreading it.
“If we rest on our oars and limit ourselves that it is only the pregnant women that come to our PHC that we are focusing for testing, we shall be missing a lot of them.
That was why we embarked on mapping exercise to TBAs identification so that moving forward, we can reach the pregnant women going there so that once they are tested positive of HIV, they will be linked with health centres where they can access prevention treatment.”
Giving statistics of HIV situation in Ogun State, Coker said 45,965 persons, are estimated to be living with HIV, as of November 30th, 2022, while 5,406 tested positive in November.
The commissioner said: “Over the last few years, progress towards HIV goals has stalled, resources have shrunk, and numerous lives were at risk as a result.
She said disparity and inequity of access to health services and HIV services, and disregard for human right are among the failures that allowed HIV to become and remain a global health crisis.
She said: “Before the ART surge in 2019, Ogun state was able to place a total of 18,431 PLHIV on drugs. But as of November 2022, we have successfully placed over 28, 639 on ARVs out of the 45,965 that are estimated to be leaving with the virus leaving a treatment gap of about 17, 326. Our status stands at 63:97:94 on Vision 95:95:95 goal.”
Coker therefore, called for “improved knowledge, attitudes, and behavioral activities across the state through various enlightenments programmes on our campuses, televisions and radio programs, billboards, hand bills.”
Stating some of the activities of the state to curtail the spread of HIV, Coker said: “We are increasing our comprehensive treatment sites from 22 to 26, provision of Health Insurance Services for the people in the State through the Ogun State Health Insurance Agency (OGSHIA) in conjunction with Basic Health care Provision fund.
“Adoption of the National Health Financing policy with the major objective of promoting equity and access to quality and affordable health care.”