By Lucy Ackanyon
A project targeted at igniting interest of pregnant women and fever patients to access ante-natal care services, and fever test and treatment respectively, at healthcare facilities in the post COVID-19 era was recently launched in Benue State by APIN Public Health Initiatives.
According to Head of APIN Benue State, Dr Kelechi Ngwoke, this is coming on the backdrop of rising concerns over downward trend in health facility attendance by members of the public because of COVID-19 related issues, including fear and perceived unsafe environment of the health facility.
“The project is based on our hypothesis that the impact of COVID-19 on health care seeking behaviour will highly increase maternity and child mortality, if nothing is done,” she said.
Speaking during the launch, at Benue Hotels Makurdi, Dr Ngwoke who was represented by APIN Senior Technical Advisor, Lead, Strategic Information Department, Dr Mikhail Obaje said COVID-19 is affecting the resilience of health systems globally, and has eroded the confidence of people to seek care at the health facilities.
“The project aims to make the health facilities safe for clients to access services on one hand and on the other, try to change negative perception of patients about the health facility environment, so that they can feel free to access services without fear of getting infected with COVID-19,” she stated.
The APIN head in the State said 30 health facilities across Benue State would be selected for implementation of the project.
Reacting, some participants, including Hajia Hauwa from Federation of Muslim Women’s Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN) raised concerns over poor interpersonal communication skills of many health workers and unethical practices at public health facilities, adding that the factors are capable of undermining the success of the project if not addressed.
Earlier, in a welcome address, the Commissioner of Health and Human Services, Dr Emmanuel Ikwulono noted that APIN has supported Benue State to bring down high indices of several health challenges, especially HIV/AIDs, and pledged that the Ministry would provide the enabling environment for the project to succeed.
The project tagged, “Project, Sustaining Care Seeking for Fever and ANC at health facilities in Benue State,” was launched in the presence of wide range of stakeholders including traditional and religious leaders, directors in the State Ministry of Health, implementing partners and directors of primary healthcare from selected local governments areas.
By Lucy Ackanyon