JOE EFFIONG, UYO
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has presented 74,600 HIV/AIDS rapid test kits donared by Belemaoil, to the Akwa Ibom State Government.
The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Leonard who handed over the items to the state government through the secretary to the state government, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem,in Uyo on Thursday commended the strides made by the Akwa Ibom State Government in the last two years to control the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Leonard said the contributions of Belemaoil to USAID shows the importance of the private sector in partnering to fight the disease, saying the collaboration of the state government and other agencies have greatly helped the course.
According to her; “The test kits, with a testing capacity of 74,600, will support prevention of mother-to-child transmission services within antenatal clinics and provide critical HIV testing services to numerous young children and others who are at risk.
“Even with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Akwa Ibom, with USAID’S support, has made remarkable progress in its efforts to eradicate the epidemic.
“The number of people receiving lifesaving HIV treatment in the state has increased from 19 percent to 82 percent, with 35,000 people in 2019 to over 156,000 in 2021,”
In his remarks while receiving the kits, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem said the State Governor was committed to the health of Akwa Ibom citizens, and would not allow people to treat HIV/AIDS with levity.
He said if everyone were to take HIV/AIDS as serious as COVID-19, the disease would have been tamed, adding that the 80 percent rate of infection of the disease was high.
He stated that the many cases of HIV/AIDS infection was found among those living along the shorelines of the state, as it was a transit for many people from other countries into the state.
The SSG assured that the state government will continue to partner with USAID and its other implementation partners and commended the use of the test kits to USAID agencies to stem the tide of the scourage.
“The Governor of Akwa Ibom State knows that without a healthy population, there can be no socio-economic development and growth. He is very convinced if this, that is why as soon as he assumed office as Governor, he remodeled hospitals and it just remains about two, one in Ikot Abasi and Ikot Ekpene that is being tidied up now.
“He promised that in one of every federal constituency, there will be one very well equipped and very well manned general hospital and he is working assiduously at having the University Teaching Hospital which is going to be part of the Faculty of Medicine, Akwa Ibom State University (AKSU).
“HIV/AIDS disease will remain with us. Nobody should treat this malady with levity, it is as serious as it is. There should be no superstitions about it and all hands should be on deck to make sure that this malady is tamed,” he stated.
Speaking on behalf of the donors, the Deputy Managing Director, Belemaoil, Mr Collins Amadi said the donation from the company was part of its efforts to support and continue the fight against HIV/AIDS in the state and across the Niger Delta.
Amadi said the company was delighted to form the partnership with USAID which aims at advancing the control method of HIV infection in the state, the Niger Delta and the country in general.
“As a young, indigenous, oil producing company, we consider it a privilege to be part of the global effort to combat the scourge of HIV/AIDS in the area of early prevention which can degenerate to an advanced stage if not addressed at an early stage.
“The Belemaoil”s model is anchored on the principle of mutual wealth creation. We prioritize the health care needs and exponential of our people is very key and vital to achieving the much needed wealth and prosperity for our host communities and other communities in the Niger Delta, and Nigeria in general,” he said.