From Tony John, Port Harcourt
The Secretary to the Rivers State Government, Tammy Danagogo, has assured the United States of America (US) Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of Governor Nyesom Wike’s resolve to continue in the effective eradication of preventable diseases that affect people in the state.
Speaking during a working visit by the Country Director of the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Mary Boyd, to discuss efforts in supporting Rivers State towards tackling HIV, Tuberculosis (TB) and COVID-19 in his office, the SSG reiterated that Governor Wike places a high premium on health.
‘We all know prevention is better than cure. Governor Wike is working to prevent HIV, Tuberculosis, Polio, COVID-19 and other diseases. He will not spare any effort to ensure we do our beat. We appreciate your visit and support in the areas of HIV, Tuberculosis and other immunisation campaigns,’ Danagogo said.
‘The Ministry of Health is doing a lot in line with the government’s mandate, and counterpart funds for crucial programmes like these are regularly released.
‘I assure you that the governor appreciates the US Government in advocacy, technical, infrastructural and other support of our developmental efforts. We do not want any aspect of your work to slow down.”
The Country Director for the US Centre for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), Mary Boyd, explained that successes had been recorded for the past two years with 140,000 people living with HIV now having access to treatment, thus ensuring 85 per cent treatment coverage in the state.
‘Not only can they live a healthy, productive life, they also don’t transmit the virus anymore. This has been an important legacy that this partnership has been able to accomplish in the last two years,’ she said.
‘Two other areas that the CDC works in Nigeria are in the areas of Immunisation and Global Health Security. An important accomplishment that we also monitor is that 81 per cent of eligible individuals now have access to routine immunisation in Rivers State. That is above average, compared to other parts of Nigeria. There is also a very functional emergency operation centre here in Rivers.
‘Honestly, our collaboration with Rivers State has been wonderful because we can point to areas of impact that we have had in the lives of the people in Rivers.
‘Another reason we are here is knowing that Rivers used to have a high burden of HIV disease, tuberculosis; and knowing that COVID-19 has been a burden on everyone, and the longer it is around, the more fatigue we will all experience, we have been talking to your team on ways to leverage some of the resilient infrastructure that already exist in these powerful programmes to make sure that we take advantage of them to further extend the impact of our collaboration to save more lives.’
She further appealed to the state government to act on the new record of the polio data and advocated for support to improve immunisation coverage for polio as well as that of COVID-19 vaccination coverage.
According to her, ‘it’s been wonderful that Nigeria is wild polio-free but the environmental polio is a potential threat. On HIV, Rivers State has been recognised as a state that releases the counterpart fund which has been responsible for the success on HIV. I am confident that, that can be harnessed for immunisation.’
CDC Immunisation Director Dr Omotayo Bolu advised that the keys to success in the immunisation drive are when the state takes ownership of the campaigns such as the release of counterpart funds for polio, measles, COVID-19 and other vaccines for preventable diseases.