By Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has lauded 14 states in the federation for their improved efforts in the control of HIV.
Adewole, represented by Dr Evelyn Ngige, the Director of Public Health, Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) expressed the view at the Dissemination of the National Quality Improvement Project (NQIP) and NigeriaQual Awards Ceremony in Abuja.
The overall goal of NigeriaQual programme is to improve the quality and standard of care and related services for all patients enrolled in HIV/AIDS care and treatment using continuous quality improvement methods.
Adewole noted that thousands of patients had been enrolled in HIV/AIDS treatment, care and related services in health facilities.
“It is pertinent that the service rendered to patients in these health facilities are closely and continuously monitored and improved to ensure that patients receive optimum services.
“The FMOH has established several programmes aimed at improving and unifying the quality of clinical care and other related services rendered to people living with HIV and AIDS across the country.
“And the NigeriaQual programme implemented with technical support from Centre for Disease Control (CDC) funded by University of Maryland-led Nigerian Alliance for Health Systems Strengthening is one of such programmes.
“ In the implementation of five rounds of the NigeriaQual programme, several activities have been conducted, including series of stakeholders meeting and some treatment sites have been exceptional in their conduct of the programme.
“Based on the site performance after evolution of their scores on some clinical indicators and the consistency of their participation some sites have been selected to be awarded,’’ the minister said.
Man Charurat, Principal Investigator, Nigeria Alliance for Health System Strengthening (NAHS), said the occasion was aimed at bringing awareness to the NQIP that had been going on for the last four years.
Charurat, who is also the Director, Division of Epidemiology and prevention, Institute of Human Virology, Baltimore, U.S., said Nigeria had supported the project very well but that more needed to be done.
“We want to make sure that besides testing and linking, the best of care is provided to HIV infected patients.
“The second area of priority is early infant diagnosis, Nigeria in this aspect has performed very poorly, we are still in about 25 per cent and the number needs to scale up.
“We are now putting intervention forward to increase diagnosis, once you diagnose then services will be provided so that the children can live longer because HIV is no longer a death sentence.
“The key gap when it comes to children is diagnosis and once a patient is identified and enrolled in care that care is maintained regardless of where they are,’’ he said.
Chinenye Ugoji, Project Director, NAHSS, said the programme was to deal with two problems that were of national significance.
Ugoji said the gaps as Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) initiation and bridging the gap identified in early infant diagnosis.
“We must ensure that every HIV infected patient, who needs to be on ART, is placed on treatment because that is the only way we can achieve the goal of UNAIDS,’’ she said.
Ugorji also stressed the need to ensure that children born to HIV infected mothers were tested on time and action taken on the outcome.
She said HIV infected mothers were encouraged to come back with their babies at six weeks to get their babies tested for HIV.
“When the test is done on time, it helps the doctor to know the status of the child and it will help the doctors take clinical decision on the baby on time,’’ she said.
Ugorji explained the step was necessary “because the challenge is in the willingness of the mother to comeback with her baby to get the test done.
She said some of the women were in rural areas and facilities for testing in urban areas.
She noted that in such situations, when samples were taken from the rural to urban areas for screening, it would take a while to return back to the rural areas.