South Cotabato’s HIV/AIDS program may get WHO recognition

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/18 February) – The World Health Organization (WHO) is eyeing South Cotabato province’s initiatives on the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) as model for local government interventions.

Dr. Rogelio Aturdido Jr., chief of the Integrated Provincial Health Office, said Monday a team from the WHO visited the province last week to assess the operations of its treatment facility and year-round testing program for the deadly disease.

He said the HIV/AIDS Core Team (HACT) Clinic, which is located at the provincial hospital compound in Koronadal, was endorsed for the granting of a certificate of excellence from the international health agency.

“(WHO) is mainly considering our HIV/AIDS program under HACT as model and benchmarking site,” he said in a briefing.

Aturdido said the WHO representatives validated the clinic’s interventions for HIV/AIDS patients, especially its treatment and counselling programs.

It also looked into the HACT’s screening or testing activities, including its mobile services and partnerships with local schools, he said.

He said the team visited schools in Lake Sebu town and other HACT partner hospitals and health facilities.

The HACT Clinic, which opened in June 2016, is considered the first-ever HIV/AIDS treatment hub in the country that is funded and operated by a local government unit.

The facility, which received a funding of P3.8 million last year, is accredited with the Department of Health and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

As of end-2018, Aturdido said the province’s HIV/AIDS infections reached over 500, with 134 new cases recorded during the year.

He said majority of the new cases, some of which involved senior high school students, were detected during mobile and walk-in screening services of the HACT Clinic.

“Our walk-in services actually detect two to four new cases every week,” he said.

With the issuance of the WHO recognition, Aturdido said they expect more study visits to the facility from local government units, government agencies and non-government groups in the country and even abroad.

He said it could usher in more support assistance, especially in terms of funding, from other international agencies. (MindaNews)