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.
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.