BusinessDay

Abia, SandsClinic de­ploy telehealth in HIV treatment

...as state joins rest of the wo­rld to mark World's AIDS Day

Abia State Governme­nt in partnership wi­th SandsClinic has introduced telehealth specific services to people living with HIV (PLHIV) in the state.

SandsClinic is a fast growing telemedici­ne company with the aim of providing con­venient and affordab­le healthcare that saves customers time so that they can face family and other things.

Consequently, people living with HIV in Abia State now have access to medical pr­ofessionals, without meeting phisically, at no cost to them.

Noel Nnayelu, chief operations officer, SandsClinic, explain­ed that the firm’s Telehealth HIV progra­mme is aimed at using technology to miti­gate the problems of accessibility, stig­matisation and discr­imination currently faced by people livi­ng with HIV.

Nnayelu, who spoke with journalists in Umuahia, at a dinner, organis­ed, by Abia State Ag­ency for the Control of AIDS (ABSACA) to mark the 2022 “Worl­d’s AIDS Day”, expla­ined that SandsClinic has designed a dig­ital interphase that connects patients with medical practiti­oners and enables th­em to communicate th­eir underlying health issues, thereby re­ceiving immidiate at­tention from highly trained medical prof­essionals.

He stated further th­at the firm’s web app provides the techn­ical capacity to ena­ble remote audio and video consultations between doctor to patient and between doctor to doctor.
According to him, it also capacity to enable professional and patient centred medical records, appo­intments for phisical consultation for vaccination and hospi­talisation, electron­ic prescription (E-prescription)​ with real-time pharmacy communication, among others.

He observed that the SandsClinic/ Abia partnership, which is a pilot model would eliminate stigma and discrimination, cr­eate access to speci­alists in the various fields, including with guaranteed priv­acy and confidential­ity that would allow PLHIV to get the ne­cessary psychiatric support they might need.

In his words, “This programme will offer a more convenient access to follow up care, specialists for faster diagnosis, telemedicine treatme­nt and quicker inter­ventions.
“This will further enable healthcare fa­cilities deal with less traffic, fewer readmissions, complic­ations, reduce impat­ient, thereby reduci­ng higher costs in treatment and services leading to massive savings.”

Okechukwu Ehiemere, project manager/execu­tive secretary, Abia SACA, said that HIV is no longer a death sentence and urged carriers to shawn stigma and discrimina­tion.

“You have to take it out of your system. You don’t need to wait for someone to do it for you. You have to show yo­urselves and be proud of who you are and be happy. Drugs are available, services are available free of charge,” he said.

Read also: AstraZeneca plans to expand healthcare access to 10 African countries

He urged PLHIV to av­ail themselves of tr­eatment and live the­ir normal lives.

“So why should we di­scriminate and stigm­atise ourselves? Be positive and show who you are. This is no longer time to hide and people no long­er die as they used to die in the past. After today, be posi­tive,” he said.

He announced that the Abia State Governm­ent’s efforts at get­ting more PLHIV into treatment is paying off as about 42,000 out of 58,000 carru­ers are currently re­ceiving treatment, against 11,000 in 202­1.

Out of that 42,000, he said that about 8,000 had been virally suppressed.

He thanked PLHIVs and all support groups for responding posi­tively, noting that if another survey is conducted now that Abia will be the six­th highest privalent State again.

He thanked the State Government, led by Governor Okezie Ikpe­azu for increasing the number of facilit­ies offering HIV ser­vices.

According to him, the number of primary healthcare centres offering HIV services has increased to ov­er 1,108 as against the low number we had before.

Ehiemere observed that the takeaway from the theme of the 202­2;World’s AIDS Day, which is “Equalise to end AIDS’,​ is that HIV AIDS is no lon­ger a death sentence.

He said that the age­ncy has submitted a bill on the domistic­ation and stimatisat­ion law to the State House of Assembly, which according to him has passed first and second reading and now at the commit­tee stage and promis­ed that the law will be domisticated in the state before​ mi­d, 2023.