The ECEWS Health Confidence Centre is a project supported by UNFPA and PEPFAR to provide sexual and reproductive health services to young women and youths in Akwa Ibom State. UNFPA on one hand provides facilities to make the Center conducive for patronage of young people while PEPFAR supports HIV services at the Centre through FHI 360. The project commenced in February, 2013 when the ECEWS Health Confidence Centre was opened to the public for the first time, with a total of 85 young people (including sex workers and their clients) accessing sexual and reproductive health services. Participants at the flag off event settled to recreational activities such as snooker, Ludo, scrabble, video games, whot, and traditional games. Those who were neither playing games nor accessing SRH services engaged themselves in music and movies with pleasure. Behavioural change communication materials (pamphlets and brochures) on varied sexual and reproductive health issues were issued to participants as reinforcement for messaging received at the Centre.
Since then, the Centre which is open five days every week with services provided between 9am-5pm daily, has been on the forefront of providing access for young people to know their HIV status, as well as accessing other SRH services in a safe and confidential environment managed by professionally trained and experienced personnel. There has also been patronage from young people who also make useful contributions for sustainability.
The following are services offered in the Centre;
ECEWS Health Confidence Centre provides Information and counseling on reproductive health topics such as Sexually Transmitted Infections and pregnancy, contraceptive pills, skills building to negotiate condom use, correct and consistent condom use, use of lubricant, myths and misconceptions to youths and female sex workers. Condom demonstrations, role plays, Interpersonal communication and Peer Education are used as strategies to communicate messages. The clinician and peer educators are largely responsible for implementing this strategy. Behavior and communication change materials focused on relevant topics are posted on the walls and also distributed to sex workers and youths. A condom dispenser is provided for beneficiaries to have access to condoms with appropriate condom use demonstrations.
ECEWS Health Confidence Centre offers Diagnosis of Sexually Transmitted Infections, voluntary counseling and testing of HIV, antibody testing of syphilis, Hepatitis B & C and pregnancy test for youths and commercial sex workers. The clinician utilizes the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health approved syndromic management of STI guidelines for treating symptoms among probable STI patients while the laboratory scientist provides HTC, VDRL, hepatitis B & C antibody testing and PT to all beneficiaries.
Pregnant youths and commercial sex workers are referred for Ante-natal care services including prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV where necessary in recognized health facilities.
The Centre promotes relaxation and leisure for commercial sex workers and youths to attract and sustain their interest and enhance consistent access to services within the center. These recreational services provide an air of relaxation and reduce stigma and discrimination within the center.
The ECEWS Health Confidence Centre peer to peer unit comprising high capacity FSWs promotes the establishment and sustenance of a network of commercial workers. This Network of FSWs is a major recruitment strategy for FSWs accessing services in the center. Rapid formation of several peer groups and capacity building provide a front for advocacy for the right of FSWs.
ECEWS Health Confidence Centre leverages on its existing relationship with the Ministry of Health and secondary health facilities with advanced laboratory services and Anti-retroviral therapy to ensure referral of clients for additional services such as advanced laboratory investigations, ART, ANC, and PMTCT, etc.