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C'River Strengthens Fight Against Viral Hepatitis, As JHPIEGO, FMoH Support Development Plan

The fight against viral hepatitis in Cross River has received a boost with the development of an operational plan to drive response.

A 4-day Viral Hepatitis workshop organised by Jhpiego in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health through the State Ministry of Health ended with a call for effective use of the developed and soon-to-be produced operational plan to stem the tide of Viral Hepatitis from Cross River State.

The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Henry Ayuk said the call has become expedient especially as Governor Bassey Otu has the 'People First' as the core of his administration.

"Life is precious. It is only when people are in sound health that they can contribute meaningfully to the development of the State," the Commissioner who was represented at the closing event by his Ministry's Director of Medical Services, Dr. Stephen Agbor, stated.

Ayuk thanked the organisers of the workshop and the support from other partners which made the training possible and commended participants for being actively involved in the programme and prayed the efforts invested yield the needed results of tackling the issues of viral Hepatitis and possibly reduce its trend to the barest minimum if not completely eradicating it in the state.

In his remarks, the Chairman, House of Assembly Committee on Health, Rt. Hon. Hilary Bissong advised stakeholders at the workshop to produce a brief on areas of concern to the House of Assembly to enable the House take it up through a legislation, pointing out that Healthcare is an area that needs prompt attention.

He assured that the present Cross River legislature is ready to throw its full weight to improve on healthcare service delivery in the State.

The Health Committee Chairman, who was represented by a Member of the House of Assembly Health Committee, Hon. Bassey Effiong Bassey said the state is leveraging on existing structures to improve the health sector.

He revealed that the State Health Insurance Scheme of the previous administration will soon be operational and that the coverage will be extended beyond the Civil Servants to the Vulnerable - the aged, pregnant women, children below 5 years and the less privileged in the State.

Articulating his views, Permanent Secretary, Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr. Etim Effiong Ayi commended the Development Partners for supporting the timely Viral Hepatitis workshop, noting that apart from producing the Viral Hepatitis operational plan, it has helped to increase the knowledge of stakeholders about the disease and amply prepared them for the task ahead.

In a brief chat with the Permanent Secretary, he re-affirmed the present administration's commitment to improving the health sector, informing that plans are underway to revamp the 196 health facilities in the State to make them more functional.

According to him, under the new arrangement, health facilities will have a doctor, midwife and trained health personnel to enable them provide the necessary healthcare service delivery.

He informed that very soon, government will start employment to boost the sector as it is presently looking at the gap analysis to know the areas of human resources needed to boost the sector.

In his earlier address, the Country Director of Jhpiego Nigeria, Dr. Adetiloye Oniyire represented by the State Project Director, Dr. Victor Adepojuby, said a lot of effort was invested in the last four days to come up with a very good plan for the state government to incorporate in its agenda. We are here to help Cross River develop a strategic plan for 2024 to 2026. Hepatitis B and C is a killer; it kills more people than HIV and it has been neglected for so long. We have prioritized high-risk populations in our plans in this elimination roadmap in Cross River State.

"The expectation is to have a final Cross River State strategy plan for Hepatitis B and C, showing clearly how the state will go about elimination between now and 2026, and of course, have a costing and a resource mobilization plan, stating clearly how the state is going to mobilize resources inwardly through budgetary allocation, executive release of money, as well as partners like JHPIEGO and other partners," he said.

By Ebi Collins, The Beagle News