The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador W. Stuart Symington this week visited the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), to tour the JUTH Laboratory & Electronic Medical Record (EMR) Systems. The JUTH program is supported by APIN Public Health Initiatives.
APIN Public Health Initiatives has made enormous and crucial contributions in the development of laboratory infrastructure and human capacity in Nigeria. Through funding from PEPFAR and Global Fund, APIN has supported and managed the provision of state-of-the-art laboratory services for HIV and TB treatment at all tiers of healthcare facilities in Nigeria.
The Ambassador was received by a team led by APIN CEO, Dr. Prosper Okonkwo, the Principal Investigator of APIN’s JUTH Program, Dr. Ochei Agbaji, Professor Edmund Bamwat, CMD of JUTH and Jelpe Tapdiyel representing the CDC Country Director. The Ambassador interacted with some beneficiaries of the program and was very pleased with the excellent services available to patients at JUTH. He said, “If you think EMR is being done by robots, come to JUTH.”
One purpose of the Ambassador’s visit to JUTH was to have a firsthand experience of USG PEPFAR-supported HIV care and treatment program including tours of:
- Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) laboratory that supports both pediatric HIV diagnosis and viral load testing for treatment and monitoring patients
- Robust Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system and infrastructure
- Interact with service beneficiaries (support group/clients/people living with HIV/healthcare workers) of the PEPFAR program
The JUTH molecular diagnostics (PCR) laboratory processes samples from HIV-infected patients and delivers results to clinicians for HIV treatment and drug-resistance monitoring. Viral load is a measurable indicator of how well a patient is responding to treatment. This lab ensures that all patients on treatment are routinely provided their viral load results. Equipped with two CAP/CTM 96, the lab has capacity to provide early infant diagnosis, Hepatitis B & C Viral Load, and HIV Drug Resistance Monitoring and DNA Genotyping, using either plasma or dried blood spots (DBS). The lab is one of only four laboratories in the country that has the capacity of HIV drug resistance monitoring and its working towards achieving WHO accreditation.
APIN through PEPFAR/CDC funding also supports JUTH in human resource capacity development of many healthcare workers in all thematic areas, provision of medical supplies, and other program management support which has largely contributed to controlling the HIV epidemic in Plateau State
JUTH, like all other health facilities supported by APIN in Nigeria, utilizes a robust Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system to track and monitor patients as against what happens in most public health facilities in the country where paper based-record systems are still being used. EMR is critical to ensuring efficient information sharing between clinics, the laboratory and the pharmacy. This EMR infrastructure at JUTH enables clinicians to:
- Document their interactions with patients
- Retrieve information for patient monitoring and management
- Engage in counseling sessions with HIV-infected patients allowing them to take ownership of their care
- Deliver quality HIV services to patients.
Since the program’s inception over 26,000 patients have been placed on life-saving anti-retroviral drugs in this facility. Currently, 9,286 clients are on treatment—8,793 are adults (2,818 males and 5,976 females) and 493 are children less than 15 years old.
APIN Public Health Initiatives began its operations in Nigeria in 2001 as a project of the Harvard School of Public Health with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2004, the project received additional funding from the USG under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief program. In 2007, APIN became an indigenous legal entity formed to build sustainability of HIV/AIDS program in Nigeria. In late 2016, APIN officially completed the name change to APIN Public Health Initiatives with a mandate to position itself as an organization that is not only focused on HIV/AIDS but other areas of public health including, TB, Malaria, Sexual and Reproductive Health, Maternal and Neonatal Health and Non-Communicable diseases.