The "Healthy Mother, Healthy Child Project 2019 has ended with greater health impact on pregnant women, mothers and children in Akwa Ibom State.
The project which is TY Danjuma Foundation-funded is implemented by a renowned non-governmental organization (NGO), Atof Rural Resource Development Centre (ARRDEC), in three local government areas of the state namely: Oti-Oron and Ekeya communities in Okobo, Eyoabasi and Esin Ufot communities in Oron and Eyokponung, Eyibia and Eyofin communities in Udung Uko.
The key objective of the project was "Promoting Uptake of Ante Natal Care (ANC) and Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) services to at least two primary health centres in these local government areas for improved IMNCH in 11 months with target population of pregnant women and HIV exposed infants.
The project's objectives also include contributions to reduce the prevalence of under-five and maternal mortality in target communities.
Addressing the beneficiaries and other guests during the close-out/award ceremony of the project in Oron recently, the chairman, ARRDEC Board of Trustees (BOT), Mr Utin Ntofon, welcomed all to the epoch-making ceremony and thanked God immensely for the success of the project in Akwa Ibom State in the past 11 months which contributed to the reduction of maternal and infant mortality rate in the state and as well enlightened pregnant women in the rural communities on the need to attend ante-natal and access health facilities to ensure that they stay healthy with their babies.
Ntofon explained that if pregnant women and their babies were not healthy, it was very risky as there would come a time that there will be no youth, adding that this informed the choice of the project.
The ARRDEC BOT chairman affirmed that the project which was the first of its kind in Akwa Ibom had achieved its set objectives as witnessed in the massive turnout of beneficiaries at the ceremony. He maintained that the project had expanded the knowledge of pregnant women on how to take care of themselves and their babies during and after pregnancy and encouraged them to advise others to access health facilities for healthy living.
He appreciated TY Danjuma Foundation for its commitment, prompt disbursement of funds and oversight roles during project implementation, while also commending the project team led by Mrs
Elizabeth Adebanjo for bringing the foundation to this part of the state for the first time, their hard work and teamwork which had recorded a huge success, the volunteers, beneficiaries, royal fathers and all the stakeholders for their various roles geared towards the success of the project, announcing that because of the success recorded, the foundation extended the project to three more local government areas namely: Nsit Atai, Mbo and Urue Offong/Oruko in 2020, and called for more support, cooperation and proactive measures to surpass their performance in the former local government areas.
The BOT chairman stated that ARRDEC is a grass roots non-governmental organization passionate about the health and livelihood of the grass roots population which has formed the crux of its activities, programmes and the health of women and children as they are at the heart of its primary care programmes, maintaining that it was on this premise that the organization responded to TY Danjuma Foundation's call to implement the "Healthy Mother, Healthy Child project in the state.
He recalled that ARRDEC which started like a dream in someone's mind and shared with others, has so expanded and today was recognized the world over, pointing out that it started its humanitarian services in Oron in 1999 and got registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Abuja in 2000.
Ntofon hinted that since its formation, the organization has positively touched so many lives, hinting that recently, it took its medical outreach project to Delta, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom states where over 4,000 lives were touched in various ways. '
The BOT chairman stressed that its services was strictly a voluntary job geared towards saving lives and improving livelihood, while thanking AKSACA for working assiduously towards making Akwa Ibom State HIV-free.
Earlier, ARRDEC executive director, Rev. Okon Ekerendu, said he returned all glory to God for taking them thus far, averring that the 11 months health project was very successful and rewarding, while thanking ARRDEC BOT chairman, project team, community volunteers and all the stakeholders for their respective roles in ensuring the success of the project.
Ekerendu advised the beneficiaries to hold on to the knowledge they had acquired and as well enlighten other pregnant women on the need to access health facilities and remain healthy with their babies.
The director, Public Health, Ministry of Health, Akwa Ibom State, Dr Akro, remarked that as an health worker, his duty was to encourage patients to access health facilities and stay healthy whenever they were sick and pregnant women in particular to attend ANC for their healthy living and that of their babies.
Akro represented by LACA coordinator, Oron, Mrs. Imaobong Nsungwara, explained that sickness does not kill if patients access health facilities on time, adding that even HIV does not kill provided patients adhere to medical instruction by judiciously administering their prescribed drugs which are free and advised HIV patients to take their drugs judiciously and shun negative prophecies which are threats to their lives.
An overview of the 2019 "Healthy Mother, Healthy Child project by the project manager, Mrs Elizabeth Adebanjo, indicated that the project was to promote "uptake of ANC and PMTCT services at two primary health centres each in Oron, Udung Uko and Okobo local government areas of Akwa Ibom State for 11 months, ensuring that 500 pregnant women make at least four ANC visits to two primary health centres in these areas, 95 per cent of identified HIV positive pregnant women access PMTCT services, 95 per cent identified HIV exposed infants receive antiretroviral prophylaxis as well as build the capacity of at least four community groups/structures to continuously drive the demand for ANC and PMTCT.
Adebanjo listed stakeholders on the project to include pregnant women, traditional birth attendants (TBAs), primary health care (PHC) staff, community volunteers (CVs), community leaders (village heads), women of productive age, women leaders, religious leaders, private patent medicine vendors (PPMVs), men/male partners, technical advisors, LACAs, ARRDEC BOT, Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Health and AKSACA, stating that activities so far carried out were sensitization meetings, mapping and identification of TBAs, mission homes, PPMVs and capacity building for TBAs, PPMVs, support groups and CVs, it also embarked on mobile outreaches, tracking and follow-up of HIV positive pregnant women, cluster meetings, health talks and HIV testing services (HTS) among others.
The project manager explained that from the inception of the project in March 2019 to December 2019, tremendous results were recorded with enrollment of 700 pregnant women for ANC at the facilities, 288 pregnant women made at least three ANC visits, 39 HIV positive pregnant women identified, 33 HIV-positive pregnant women enrolled for PMTCT services and 12 HIV exposed infants were receiving antiretroviral prophylaxis, and expressed optimism that the next phase of the project in Nsit Atai, Mbo and Urue Offong/Oruko would be greater and called on all hands to be on deck.
Also on the result was the identification of new TBAs with the project and refer/accompany pregnant women to the PHCs, myth on HIV which are peculiar to the project locations were being demystified as well as the building of capacity structures to sustain the project.
In spite of the aforementioned results, she disclosed that they also faced some challenges in the course of the project which were: unfriendly nature of some PHC staff, delayed result of early infant diagnosis (ELD), some HIV positive pregnant women became evasive; PHCs do not charge
uniformly for ANC registration as well as the non-certification of TBAs for HTS by AKSACA among others.
Dr Anwana Ntofon and Mrs Affiong Ntofon emphasized that TY Danjuma Foundation and ARRDEC had planted a seed that needed to be watered by all to grow, and stressed the need for the sustenance of the project.
They charged religious leaders to encourage their worshippers to embrace health facilities, while calling on more volunteers and enlightenment of the younger boys and girls on HIV/AIDS.
They commended the sponsor, TY Danjuma Foundation, and the implementor of the project, ARRDEC, for doing a good job, the project team, volunteers and stakeholders for deeming it fit to save lives and advised beneficiaries to grab the opportunity even as they let others to know about the project.
On his part, the project officer, Mr. Joshua Inim, thanked God for making the project successful despite the short period, adding that it had impacted on pregnant women in the local government areas.
Inim thanked TY Danjuma Foundation for sponsoring the project in Akwa Ibom and ARRDEC for successfully implementing the project to the letter and sued for more partnership from the foundation in future, maintaining that the project had enlightened pregnant women on the need to access health facilities.
Goodwill messages were received from project manager, Akwa Ibom State Agency for Control of AIDS (AKSACA), Dr Nkereuwem Etok, represented by Mr Emediong Udoh; monitoring and evaluation officer, Pastor Emmanuel Ibezugbe; director, Unwana Oro Christian Missionary Outreach and others.
On behalf of the beneficiaries, Mrs Vivian Ubonq, Mrs Nse Ekpe and Mrs Grace Samuel appreciated TY Danjuma Foundation for sponsoring the project and ARRDEC for judiciously implementing the project, adding that the project had direct and positive impact on them as pregnant women and their babies as before now, they were reluctant to access health facilities.
They affirmed that the health project had saved their lives and their babies and prayed God to bless and reward them even as they encouraged others yet to access the facility to do so without delay.
The close-off ceremony featured presentation of gifts to community volunteers (CVs) and awards to persons.
The awardees were: Chief Esang Abia, Mr Bassey Timothy, Mrs Grace Ufot, Mrs Glory Udom, Mrs Deborah Matthew, Mrs Helen Esuk, Mrs Grace William, Mr. Godwin Idem and Mr Charles among others.