From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The Bayelsa State Government has lamented the low testing rate of residents of the state for HIV/AIDS.
The Bayelsa State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Pabara Igwele declared that the situation far below the expected outcome.
Dr. Igwele disclosed this during a brief ceremony to receive 70,000 Life Saving Rapid Test Kits donated by IHS Nigeria Limited with support of the United States Agency for International Development, USAID.
According to him only 41% of residents of the state know their HIV/AIDS status, which he noted was far below the 95% testing rate.
He said, “This donation is the first of its kind and we consider our state fortunate, government alone cannot cater for the health care need of our citizens. These kits will help to improve our health care indices in the area of HIV/AIDS.
“During the World AIDS Day celebration, we also did our statistics and observed that just 41% of persons in our state know their status which is far below the 95% expected outcome, we have quite a lot to do, and so we need more support.”
In his remarks, the USAID representative in Nigeria, Mr. Babatunde Odelola, described the 70,000 Rapid Test Kits as a major milestone in USAID strategic engagement and partnership with the private sector.
He said that the IHS/USAID partnership has resulted in the provision of test kits to be utilized in testing the citizens of Bayelsa State.
“This contribution from IHS will augment the Bayelsa State HIV/AIDS programme capacity to find more unidentified people living with HIV in particular, support prevention of mother to child transmission services with antenatal clinics and reach out to numerous young children and others who are at risk.
“All newly diagnosed individuals that will benefit from this test kits that are found positive will be immediately placed on life saving anti-retroviral therapy supported by the US president’s emergency plan for aid relief programme through USAID,”.
Bond Abbe, Associate Director for Government Relations with IHS Nigeria explained that managing a health crisis of HIV/AIDS magnitude requires a concerted effort of all.
“This is a clarion call to collectively come together and forge partnerships. This partnership between USAID and IHS symbolize that working together is critical to build a safer, healthier world.”