ATM Network Urges Anambra State to Boost Healthcare through Local Investment and Evidence-Based Programmes


Lawrence Nwimo, Awka

Coalition of Civil Society Networks on AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (ATM Networks) has called on the Anambra State Government to invest in disease control, eradication, and other evidence-based intervention programs to boost healthcare delivery in the state.

The group urged the government to turn around and key in and support using the government’s budget to drive the Community System Strengthening (CSS) programs of the ATM Networks in the state rather than allow foreign donors and partners to keep fighting diseases and other healthcare burdens of the people.

The group made the call at the State Media Meeting with Journalists on the ATM Anambra State Global Fund, GC-7/C19RM/RSSH project in the state. The project is aimed at increasing uptake services in AIDs, TB and Malaria treatments, and reducing factors that result in the disruption of essential health services due to the COVID-19 pandemic and preparedness for future pandemics and epidemics.

Addressing journalists, the State Coordinator, TB Network, Anambra State, Ifeyinwa Unachukwu disclosed that the project has already achieved tremendous results in the focal five local government areas it covered this year including Awka North, Idemili North, Njikoka, Onitsha North, and Orumba North, respectively.

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According to her, the intervention has improved community engagement and ownership, resources mobilization for facilities, improved water and sanitation as well as HIV testing, malaria treatment, and TB screening. She also said it has led to a decrease in healthcare incidence and an increase in treatment adherence.

To address TB, HIV, Malaria, and gender-based violence in the state, she called for the extension of the National health insurance program to the poor, proper utilization of primary health funds, strengthening of primary health infrastructures, and for the government to address the inequality permeating our society.

She also said securing financial resources, renewing political leadership, fostering collaborations and community-led monitoring should be scaled up to eliminate diseases and the rising cases of gender-based violence in the state.

A Public Health expert and parasitologist, Prof. Dennis Aribodor in his speech, said the unpredictable nature of foreign aid most times affects the continuation and effective implementation of models designed to lift the health burdens of the people.

He urged the government to key into opportunities for disease control by interacting with stakeholders in the intervention areas to ensure the accommodation of more communities in the project.

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Aribodor, who is the South-East Zonal Coordinator of the Civil Society Network in Malaria Control, Immunization and Nutrition said, “The external support we get for this project is merely sporadic and tangential and are time bound. We implore the state government to key into this model and make sure this goes around the state. It will only cost them just small money.”

He urged the government to budget and ensure the release of the funds budgeted for interventions. According to him, the over-reliance on foreign donors and partners cannot always sustain programs of disease control in the state.

Aribodor urged the state government to intensify the fight for the elimination of malaria by declaring free treatment of the disease especially for vulnerable children and pregnant women in the state.

He said “There is also the need to make treatment of these diseases considerably free, while addressing hidden causes like transportation cost that make the free services of HIV/AIDs and TB treatments becoming inaccessible and not just unaffordable. For instance, for malaria, I don’t think there is any public facility in the state whether primary or secondary where we have free Malaria treatment.”

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“Anambra state can treat every child free from malaria. Every child especially the most vulnerable, is described as under five and of course, pregnant mothers are very important to us.”

Earlier, the State Programme Officer, for the TB Network’s C19RM/RSSH project in Anambra, Onyekachi Ololo decried the negative impacts of dependency mostly experienced on funders, calling on the government to key in, fill the gap, and catalyze sustainable development in the communities.

“Government can come in and drive this C19RM/RSSH model because the results being generated from communities owning their healthcare facilities are crystal clear. It is expected that the government should be doing this for sustainability,” he said.

Finally, he said the C19RM/RSSH project was implemented through the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), to support the ATM Networks and other Community-Based partners in the state.

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