The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Leonard, on Thursday handed over 74,600 HIV/AIDS capacity test kits to the Akwa Ibom State Government.
The test kits were donated by Belemaoil to support USAID’S HIV/AIDS eradication efforts in Akwa Ibom State. The items were received by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem, on behalf of the state.
Speaking in Uyo during the handover ceremony, Leonard said she was delighted to celebrate the strides made by the Akwa Ibom State Government in the last two years to control the spread of HIV/AIDS.
She lauded the contributions of Belemaoil to USAID, saying such laudable efforts show the importance of the private sector in partnering to fight the disease, noting that the collaboration of the state government and other agencies have greatly helped the course.
“The test kits, with a testing capacity of 74,600, will support the 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 life-saving HIV treatment in the state has increased from 19 per cent to 82 per cent, with 35,000 people in 2019 to over 156,000 in 2021,” she said.
In his remarks, Secretary to the State Government, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem said the state governor was committed to the health of its citizens and does not allow people to treat HIV/AIDS with levity.
He stated that many cases of HIV/AIDS infection were found among those living along the shoreline of the state, as it was a transit for many people from other countries into the state, adding that the government was taking what happens at the shore of the state seriously to reduce the surge and called for the people to do same.
The SSG reiterated the government’s commitment to continue to partner with USAID and its other implementing partners.
“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 of this, that is why as soon as he assumed office as Governor, he remodeled hospitals.
“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.
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 partner 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 the 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,” Amadi said.