By Kenneth Anam
Sequel to the relentless efforts of Cross River Government in tackling HIV pandemic, the state Ministry of Health recently received a delegation from the South African Ministry of Health and agreed to collaborate on learning exchange as a way to stem the tide of the virus in both countries.
The agreement was made known in a meeting by the Honourable Commissioner for Health, Dr. Janet Ekpenyong during an interaction with the visiting team at the ministry of health office complex in Calabar the state capital.
Dr.Ekpenyong alongside the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Pauline Obute, however, welcomed the team to Nigeria, acknowledging the fact that both countries share a common denominator which is the HIV pandemic.
Speaking further, the Commissioner revealed that the prevalence rate in Cross River is currently at 2.3% with conserted efforts underway to ensure its reduction to the lowest minimum level of 0% and possible eradication.
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Dr. Ekpenyong, however, charged the team to be critical thinkers as their research and learning should cover the Nigeria context.
According to her, “I will leave you to a curious scientific mind to compare notes and draw out your conclusion whilst imploring that the two days visit should not just be to learn but should also help Cross River State have a clearer picture of what has been presented and will further aid an advanced learning to close existing gap in the state and country at large.”
Dr Ekpenyong further added that care approach has moved to patient-centered care which the model has come to address, stating “Case finding and prompt treatment should be given utmost attention while ensuring the that Data Model are duly strengthened.”
She assured the team that with competent hands in the ministry, a successful outing is envisaged and that the learning experience will be truly a worthwhile experience.
Speaking earlier, the Acting Director of Health, South Africa, Dr. Tshepo Molapo in his presentation, commended Nigeria and Cross River State Ministry of Health for accepting and providing a conducive ambience and warm reception for partners to thrive in the state.
Dr. Molapo stated that despite the adaptation of Differentiate Service Delivery (DSD), adopting Contextualize Differentiated Model of Care (DMOC) in 2020, the prevalence rate of South Africa has climaxed to 18.3% which necessitated the learning exchange to Nigeria to aid them study the country’s policies and implementation of Anti Retroviral Treatment (ART), including policy guidance as well as facility and community management of ART stocks and other workable plan in the state.
In order to create room for comparison, the State Aid Programme Controller, Dr. Goodwill Bassey Effah made a presentation of the work plan of the state as demanded by the South Africa medical team, which they said is to enable them know the current situation in Cross River State and the best practices that has led to the success story where they can make inference and draw conclusion for onward success and implementation in tackling HIV in South Africa.
In a heartwarming moment of interaction, comparison of notes, brainstorming, exchange of ideas and experiences, the team from South Africa could not hold back their joy on the gestures of the Commissioner and the entire ministry for their hospitality and open arms.
The team however expressed satisfaction and hope to return to Nigeria and Cross River in no distant time to share their success story upon successful implementation.