Prior to ECEWS intervention in Imo State, several HIV exposed infants could not access HIV services due to inadequate trained personnel to provide early infant diagnosis (EID) services. Across the 66 Primary Health Care Centers in Okigwe senatorial zone, none was providing EID services as at September 2013.
Mrs. Nwokorie Theresa is a Community Health Extension Worker in-charge of the Umuduru-Umuopara Primary Health Center in Ehime-Mbano LGA, Imo state in South-East Nigeria. The primary health care center serves a catchment area covering several remote communities with an estimated population of over 10,000 people who have little or no access to good healthcare. Before her training, Theresa had seen several exposed infants but lacked requisite knowledge and skills to collect DBS samples. Theresa received training on Early Infant Diagnosis including Dried Blood Spot Sample Collection, and on-the-job mentoring organized by ECEWS Imo state team to enhance capacity of health care workers. Theresa has this to say:
“Before I was trained, I never knew the importance of EID and lacked skills on collection of Dried Blood Spot (DBS). I am grateful to ECEWS for teaching me how to carry out DBS sample collection and it is exciting seeing these babies turn out negative at the end of it all.’’
The ECEWS LOCATE Project has built the capacity of over 44 healthcare personnel across 44 primary health care centers in Okigwe senatorial District – Imo State to provide Early Infant Diagnosis services to expose infants. In the first 9 months of the LOCATE Project, Early Infant Diagnosis has been provided to 55 exposed infants in the senatorial District, 5 children (9.2% of the exposed infants) turned out HIV positive and had since been enrolled for ARV. HIV prevalence in Imo state according to the 2010 Sero Prevalence Survey stands at 3%.