From Idongesit Inyang
The Cross River government has said that the State Ministry of Health was well-equipped to control the influx of people in the state during the forthcoming Calabar Carnival as regards the spread of HIV/AIDS.
“Well-trained staff have been equipped to carry out test of people although the issue of inadequate test kits has become a serious matter of concern to both the state government and the Ministry of Health,” the permanent secretary in the ministry, Dr Iwara Iwara has said.
He told Midweek Pioneer shortly after a state management team Meeting of the Cross River Agency for the Control of AIDS (SACA), recently, that hopefully before the carnival commences in December, the issue of test kits would be addressed.
Represented by the director of public health in the state, Dr Jonah Offor, the permanent secretary said, “When once we have enough of the kits, then we are free to host the Carnival.”
Iwara disclosed that the HIV test kits that are being used in the state are supplied by the implementing partners with the assistance of the state government.
He regretted that the state government has never released any funds to the State Agency for the Control of AIDS (SACA),charging the agency to apply for the budgetary release of funds when budgetary circle is being prepared.
Speaking during a presentation, the director general, State Action Committee on AIDS, SACA, Dr. Etcheri-Ella Ansa, disclosed that the state government is focusing efforts on ensuring that people know their HIV status.
Represented by the community mobilisation officer in the agency, Mr. Ifere Obeten, the director general, said those infected are on treatment even as they are to achieve viral suppression and minimise the risk of HIV transmission.
He said as at May 2022, the current treatment of all regiments stood at 61,125, adding that the estimated number of people living with HIV/AIDS in Cross River is 88,716.
“SACA wants the state government to release budgetary funds for HIV/AIDS activities, including procurement of ARVs test kits and other commodities,” Ansa further stated.
The SACA director general asked for the enforcement of the Cross River State stigmatisation and discrimination laws and the need for private organisations to support HIV and AIDS response as part of their corporate social responsibility.
An implementing partner, the Excellence Community Education Welfare Scheme (ECEWS), led by Mr Andy Eyoh, explained that their implementation strategies and approaches in controlling HIV/AIDS in the state include daily situation room meeting and charts review.
ECEWS, an NGO, is a leading consortium of achieving health initiative to support Akwa Ibom and Cross River States in their final push towards sustainable HIV epidemic control with support from the USAID.
In their presentation, its facilitator, Mr Umana Joe, explained that the project started in Cross River on August I, 2022 and has been implemented in 53 health facilities across Southern and Central Senatorial Districts.