Written by Njoka Divine Ngwang
Edited by Bonkung Handerson
The CBC Health Services’ Hope Quality Production Unit is a wing of her Support Group program. The unit was started in the year 2000 to produce nutritive foodstuff that would help boost the immune systems of malnourished persons living with HIV.
The Support Group program is essentially a guild of persons diagnosed with HIV who come together as a means of empowering themselves in coping with the virus and preventing its progression into AIDS.
Eunice Nwufor, a staff of the Hope Quality Production Unit, says, “Formally, we produced only food and nutritional items that boost the immune system of Support Group members such as soybeans, milk, and high protein formula that are prescribed in our hospitals and the food items were given to Support Group members free of charge.”
“Today, our production chain has been diversified to include the production of other products such as detergent powders, body lotion, coconut oil, chin-chin, doughnuts, banana puffs, and cookies among others, which Support Group members and clients can buy at affordable prices,” explains Eunice.
The diversification in production chain has led to the change in name from Food and Nutrition program to Hope Quality Production Unit because of the varied products that the Unit produces today and the fact that it serves as a hope restoration and empowerment Centre for Support Group members.
Initially, the Support Group program and by extension the production unit was funded among others by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) and Flagstaff International Health and Education Fund that funded the production of these food items that were given to Support Group members free of charge. After the funding period ended, the program could no longer continue to give out its products for free. To make these high-quality products accessible to the Support Groups members and clients, the Hope Quality Production Unit has trained personnel who now produce and distribute at different institutions of the CBC Health Services at affordable prices.
Mr. Wepnje Joseph, Coordinator of the CBC Health Services’ Support Group program, says these products are available at Banso Baptist Hospital, Ndu Baptist Health Centre, Nkwen Baptist Health Centre, and Bafoussam Baptist Health Center. Mr. Wepnje notes with satisfaction that members of different Support Groups have also been trained to do production at their groups and individual levels. The distribution of the Hope Quality products is also done through Support Group staff of these hospitals who offer guidance on how the products are to be prepared and consumed.
Recounting the achievements of the Unit, Eunice explains that many Support Group members were stigmatized in the past especially because of malnourishment, and many people living with HIV died out of ignorance. With the introduction of Hope Quality Production Unit, many lives have been saved through boosting of members’ immune systems through consuming the quality and nutritive food items that are produced.
“Now, you can hardly know a Support Group member by physical looks, thanks to the quality of our products that are effective in nourishing their bodies,” boasts Eunice.
Mr. Wepnje corroborated the achievements of the Unit said, “The CBC Health Services’ Hope Quality Production Unit has created employment opportunities for many Support Group members either through direct employment with the CBC Health Services or by self-employment.” The Unit has equally saved the lives of many children born to mothers living with HIV who chose not to breastfeed, thereby limiting their exposure to the virus.
“We have also empowered Support Group members who are now able to produce things, which are helping them in many ways including the fact that they no longer buy the products in the market. The Unit has become an empowerment Centre for all Support Group members and anyone who desires to learn the production processes to be able to help themselves,” adds Mr. Wepnje who is very optimistic about the Unit’s future.
Eunice who works at the Hope Quality Production Unit calls on members of the public to take advantage of the quality and affordable products of the Unit.