ABSACA’S BALANCED STRATEGY IN CONTROLLING HIV/AIDS IN ABIA
As part of his resolve to make great impact in the healthcare sector by improving the life expectancy of Abians, the State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu has done much in many sub-sectors of health including the Abia State Agency for Control of HIV/AIDS (ABSACA). He has repositioned the Agency and made it an arrowhead amongst its kind. About two years ago, the Governor appointed Dr. Ajike Eme Kalu as the Project Manager/Executive Secretary of Abia State Agency for Control of HIV/AIDS (ABSACA) to coordinate the activities of the Agency and take it to a higher level.
The Abia State Agency for Control of AIDS (ABSACA) is popularly known to be coordinating agency of HIV that coordinates all activities of HIV programme in the State. The mandate of ABSACA is to make sure that the prevalence of HIV/AIDS is dragged to the lowest possible. In line with its mandate, the Governor through the Agency has reduced the HIV/AIDS prevalence in Abia State from 3.9 to 2.1.
The Governor has within this period of time turned around the fortunes of the Agency for good and made Abia a leading SACA state in the whole federation with tangible positive impacts. Some of the various strategies employed include what ABSACA calls 95, 95, 95 Target. This strategy means ensuring that 95% of people have comprehensive information on HIV/AIDS, 95% who are tested positive gets counselled and referred for care, and 95% of them who gets the care are finally suppressed.
This Agency has been doing a whole lot to ensure that the sensitization on HIV/AIDS related developments gets to the people. It does this through her door-to-door campaigns and one-on-one interactive orientation with the populace including those in rural communities.
To control the infant and maternal mortality rate and bring it to the barest-minimum, ABSACA has introduced what it called “Mentor Mothers” to encourage mothers who are tested positive. This it does by assigning mothers who were HIV positive before giving birth to non-infected children to assist and encourage those women who now have been tested positive.
During the Women August Meetings organized by the Governor’s Wife, Mrs Nkechi Ikpeazu ABSACA made frantic effort to ensure that HIV/AIDS testing/counselling was done to almost all the organizations that participated in the Women August Meeting flag-off. It is mandatory that the Agency follows up anyone that is tested positive, such person is linked up to care in any nearby health facility that provides the drugs which are free of charge as the State and Federal Government supply the drugs. Governor Ikpeazu has ensured that these drugs are available to Abians.
In sustaining the fight against HIV/AIDS, Governor Ikpeazu has through ABSACA introduced what it called TLD – a latest medication in HIV/AIDS treatment and care. The TLD treatment is said to be capable of reducing HIV/AIDS virus to an insignificant level, whereby the carrier would not be able to transmit it to the other partner and would live long in good health. The Governor decided that something has to be done for the State to have a sane environment in HIV/AIDS programme. The whole facilities in Abia are now linked to the TLD as a major and preferred treatment method.
It is note worthy that the last survey conducted in Nigeria shows that the HIV/AIDS prevalence in Abia has dropped from 3.9 to 2.1 within a space of two years. Going forward, ABSACA has kick-started plans to begin One-Stop-Shop model starting with Umuahia North LGA. With the One-Stop-Shop model, people would be coming to for testing, counselling and receiving care/treatment all at the same place. ABSACA has equally initiated the intervention of healthcare to some key population including people that inject drugs, homosexuals, patronizers of commercial sex workers, etc. The State is already in talks with two international partners to handle this special area of HIV/AIDS Control programme.
With the efforts of the Project Manager/Executive Secretary of the agency, Dr. Agike Eme Kalu, in the nearest future ABSACA may not be talking about tablets as treatment for HIV/AIDS but monthly injection from which the virus would hopefully be eradicated. It should be reiteratea that everything about the control of HIV/AIDS , starting from testing to treatment remains free of charge. By implication, everyone is expected to get tested and know their status to save their lives and that of their loved ones. This is what ABSACA is driving at. Hence, credit should go to the Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu for his unflinching support to the Agency. Governor Ikpeazu in his magnanimity has provided all facilities to the Agency to the level that ABSACA can boast of having all the test kits needed for HIV/AIDS programme in the State. More interestingly too, the staff of the Agency have never been owed salaries.