COVID-19: How 170 missed out on ARV care during lockdown

AIDS Prevention Initiative in Nigeria (APIN) said between April and May, 2020, no less than 170 clients stopped accessing antiretroviral (ARV) drugs in the 82 facilities it covers due to the COVID-19 lockdown despite all mechanisms, including home drop, it had put in place.

APIN’s head of office in Oyo State, Dr. Olalere Olajide, who spoke at the Oyo State second quarter coordination meeting, said most of these clients were from outside Oyo State and could not come to pick up their ARVs.

According to him, testing for HIV during the period became a problem and testing dropped because centres such as the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, closed its routine clinics.

He added that testing samples for HIV also reduced because of COVID-19 samples that were being processed.

Dr Olajide, however, declared that since June, the number of clients coming to the clinics for ARV had improved, adding that “our clients now take at least three months drugs so that it decongests the clinic and lockdown will not be an issue.”

He listed the organisation’s challenges in the quarter to include inadequate human resources, poor documentation on HIV service delivery in health facilities, and dwindling donor funds to support HIV programme activities.

Breakthrough Action -Nigeria’s representative, Eniola Adeyemo, said it had reached 57,790 people with information on malaria and referred 2000 people for appropriate malaria services at health facilities in 11 local government areas it was working in Oyo State.

Adeyemo said community sensitisation was also carried out on COVID-19 because many individuals in the community were confusing COVID-19 symptoms and malaria.

“We intend in this new quarter to train on precautions for conducting community services during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as on providing COVID-19 prevention messages in communities,” she added.

Oyo State’s Global Fund Project coordinator, Dr. Olubunmi Ayinde, said the sensitisation of healthcare providers on COVID-19 was ongoing by the state’s Ministry of Health, adding that the meeting was to review and coordinate activities on HIV, tuberculosis and malaria for a sustainable system in the state.

Earlier,  Director, Public Health, Oyo State Ministry of Health, Dr. Wole Lawal, appreciated health workers in the state for keeping health care services delivery ongoing despite the COVID-19 pandemic, just as he urged them to continue on the COVID-19 prevention protocol to stay safe.

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