Health Compass Initiative Maiden Summit 2021

On the 10th of April 2021, policymakers, experts and stakeholders on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) across the world gathered at the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital Conference room to analyze critically the Nigerian NCDs situation in the Maiden Health Compass Initiative Summit themed “THE EMERGING FACE OF NCDs IN NIGERIA: BLEAK OR PROMISING?”

According to the President/Founder of Health Compass Initiative, John Ebong, the summit was borne out of the need to discuss the current national strategies, assess their implementation and propose new schemes to improve the Nigerian NCDs situation.

The event had in attendance the Director of NCDs of the World Health Organization, Dr. Mikkelsen Bente; and the Technical Officer, Human Resources for Health Department of the World Health Organization, Dr. Onyema Ajuebor who both joined virtually.

Also in attendance were Dr. Anyiekere Ekanem, Health Development Consultant, Community Health Physician and ART Coordinator University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH); Dr. Sam Onung, Akwa Ibom State Coordinator, Diabetes Association of Nigeria and Consultant Endocrinologist; Dr. Idongesit Umoh, Consultant Cardiologist; Dr. Emmanuel Edward, Community Health Physician and TB Coordinator UUTH; and Dr. Francis Akume, a YALI Fellow and Universal Health Coverage Advocate, who formed the panelists.

Addressing the event, Dr. Bente stated that the Global response to NCDs is not good and summarized eleven actions that are recommendations having learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic. She emphasized focus on the intervention for the prevention and control of NCDs which require action across sectors— the government, corporate bodies and individuals. She commended Health Compass Initiative on bringing the hospital to communities through their various programs and concluded by saying that all hands should be on deck if we must overcome the burden of NCDs, especially in the communities.

Dr. Onyema Ajuebor acknowledged the contribution of Health Compass Initiative as part of the collective efforts to address the scourge of NCDs in Nigeria. He commended the strides made to achieve our motto, given the burden of NCD and the markedly increased inability of the health system to respond to NCDs due to Covid-19. He also added that the activities of the Initiative also creates a platform to advocate for health workers and introduce practical and innovative tools that will strengthen our competencies as we prepare for service either by community surveillance activities or by building community engagement or experiences.

The Panel discussion, which was the highlight of the summit, anchored by John Ebong had great contributions from our panelists who x-rayed the facts, issues and challenges affecting the implementation of the national strategy for NCDs.

Dr. Ekanem proposed revitalizing our health care systems, encouraging people to have the blood pressure kits at home, creating awareness in the communities and linking them up to care. Support for screening, subsidy on drugs to help in the management of NCDs in the community at large.

Dr. Edward implored the government to help patients assess health care without paying from their pockets and also promote Telemedicine because of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on businesses and living.

Dr. Onung during his lecture session on global strategies for the control of diabetes advocated that Random Blood Sugar Checks should be included as part of vital signs checked at outpatient departments as it would help in early detection of Diabetes. He also proposed the subsidization of the test cost and drugs to enable those at risk to be catered for.

The initiative also signed and launched her constitution into effect, as a medium through which members of the team will be guided and each member received a copy.

The second day of the summit saw members of the Health Compass Initiative team engage in a team bonding event. This was a closed event in the form of a picnic at Ibeno Beach. This event was aimed at improving team dynamics, build inter-personal relationship among team members and foster cooperation.

We recognize that social networks have a major role to play in protection and promotion of individual mental health. Thus, we leveraged on this event to help provide a safe space where team members could engage in social interaction.

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