In its effort to fill gaps in the health sector, particularly those related to AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria (ATM), the Association of Civil Societies in Malaria Control, Immunization, and Nutrition (ACOMIN) has completed its advocacy visits to five local government counties (LGA).
ACOMIN campaigned against ATM for the Tai, Khana, Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt LGA headquarters and for the primary health facility in Eleme LGA.
In her opening remarks during the visits, which lasted three days, Maryjane C. Akwuaka, Rivers State Program Manager, ACOMIN, explained the reason for the visit.
“We, the State Advocacy Team for AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, are here to bring you the program called the COVID-19 Response Mechanism (C-19 RM) Project for Health.
“The project is about identifying gaps in the health facilities of our various wards. When we identify these gaps, we will work to find solutions to them,” she said.
Blessing Chigozim, Rivers State Coordinator, Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN), also stated that beyond identifying the gaps, efforts are being made to ensure such gaps are filled.
“The main purpose of this program is not only to identify gaps, but also to ensure that the gaps are filled.
“To that end, all Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) working in the communities must work together as a team to ensure that the purpose and goal of this (ATM) program is achieved in the LGAs,” she said.
According to state chairman ACOMIN, Rev. John Ihua-Maduenyi, the gaps include problems and/or factors that prevent HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria patients from accessing healthcare facilities in different communities.
He said: “Some of the gaps could be that people complain about the distance to the facility or that they prefer traditional birth attendants (TBAs) for pregnant women. The facility may be inaccessible due to the bushy nature of the walkway etc.
“When these gaps are noticed, they must be reported to community leadership by the Ward Development Chairman (WDC) for resolution as this is a community project and communities are expected to own the facilities.
“If the challenge is outside of the communities, it will be escalated to the LGA. If the LGAs can’t handle it, ACOMIN comes to escalate it to the State Healthcare Board to find solutions.”
For each identified gap, advocacy will be directed to well-meaning individuals, businesses, organizations and governments at various levels to find a solution, she further explained.
“That’s what this program is all about: acceptance and good service,” concludes the ACOMIN boss.
At Tai LGA Headquarters, Health, Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Supervisor Hon. Lesor Mascot Friday, deputizing for the LGA Chairman, assured ACOMIN that the LGA will always support any endeavor that is beneficial to its citizens.
At Eleme LGA, Dr. Tonye Lawson-Jack, Medical Officer of Health (MOH) at LGA’s Primary Healthcare Center, took the opportunity to explain the internal efforts already in place, while assuring ACOMIN of the necessary collaboration.
“We’ve actually researched the approach you want to use in the past. However, they won’t often say it’s too much to keep trying. So we’re glad that an independent body is taking it upon itself to work with advocacy, for which we already have a unit,” he said.
The MOH of PHALGA and Obio/Akpor LGAs, Dr. Obellay E. Abbey and Dr. Stanley Amadi, also assure cooperation with ACOMIN in the ATM project.
It was the same assurance at the Khana Primary Healthcare Center where Local Immunization Officer (LIO), Monica Kpugimaape, spoke on behalf of the MOH.
By: Soibi Max-Alalibo