By Brenda Agba
APIN Public Health Initiatives has presented media/IT equipment and anthropometric tools to its partners towards enhancing the implementation of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief
(PEPFAR) funded Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) programmes in Benue State.
Presenting an overview of the OVC programme in the state, Program Advisor, Prevention and Community Services Unit, APIN Benue,
Mrs Plangnan Daniel, said the programme has recorded remarkable milestones from its inception which resulted in great improvement in the lives of beneficiaries, through the CDC funded iCARES project. She enumerated the PEPFAR priority Enrollment Streams to include Children Living with HIV; HIV exposed infants; Children Orphaned by AIDS; as well as Adolescents at heightened risk of HIV infection among others.
According to Mrs Daniel, APIN OVC programme has also contributed to the actualisation of the UNAIDS 95:95:95 Goal by identifying and placing HIV infected beneficiaries on life saving Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) as well as routinely following them up to ensure adherence to treatment and consequently, achieving viral suppression. She also added that close monitoring and support to HIV exposed infants till final outcome is determined as a priority action.
“Child Protection Committees are also strengthened in various communities to protect and respond to all forms of child abuse. Other services include household economic strengthening activities, nutritional support to families among other need-based services,” she stated.
Also speaking, the Benue State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs Nyiazungwe Girgi, who was represented by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mr Stephen Isa, described APIN as a reliable collaborator. She noted that its programmes have touched very important facets of human existence through the investment of huge resources to compliment government efforts in providing quality healthcare, especially at a time when government is faced with several challenges.
In their various goodwill messages, representative of Community Based Organizations (CBOs), Mrs Ugboga Adaji; representative of State AIDS and STD Control Programme (SASC), Dr Joy Obatomi; representative of Foundation for Justice Development and Peace Commission, Rev. Fr Micheal Bull, as well as representative of Benue State AIDS Control Agency (BENSACA), Dr Jacob Awodi among others, all commended APIN for their contributions to the Benue State Health Sector while calling on beneficiaries to use the equipment donated for the intended purpose.
In his closing remarks, the APIN Benue State Head of Office, Dr Kelechi Ngwoke who revealed that the organization has been working in Benue State for the past four years, expressed appreciation to the Government and people of the state for their partnership and providing an enabling environment for programme implementation.
Dr Ngwoke further buttressed that the equipment donated are intended to serve as institutional support to OVC partners and also to provide virtual platforms for capacity building and interactions with relevant stakeholders, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier, speaking separately, the APIN Director, Technical Services, Dr Ifeyinwa Onwuatuelo, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer-Programs, Dr Jay Osi Samuels and the Associate Director Prevention & Community Services Directorate, Dr Olabanjo, all expressed their appreciation to the Benue State Government as well as all OVC partners for the continuous collaboration with APIN which they noted, has led to the successes recorded by the organisation. They expressed hope that the equipment donated will further spur the CBOs for better service delivery to the OVC beneficiaries.
The donated items included Zoom equipment, Information Technology (IT) equipment and anthropometric tools which were presented to OVC partners across the priority local government areas where the OVC Program is being implemented in Benue which include; Makurdi, Gboko, Ukum, Buruku, Gwer-West, Katsina-Ala, Logo, Konshisha, Tarka and Ushongo.
Responding on behalf of all the OVC partners, the Executive Director of Integrated Health Programs of the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi, Rev. Fr Peter Paleve, expressed appreciation to APIN on behalf of all beneficiaries and pledged that the items will be put to judicious use. He reiterated the CBO’s commitment towards achieving the desired mandates of the iCARES Program in Benue.