The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Leonard, on has handed over 74,600 HIV/AIDS test kits to the government of Akwa Ibom State
The equipment which were donated by Belemaoil to support USAID’S HIV/AIDS eradication efforts in the state, were received by the secretary to the state government, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem in Uyo.
Speaking during the presentation of the items, Leonard said she was delighted at the efforts made by the state government in the last two years to control the spread of HIV/AIDS.
She lauded the contributions of Belemaoil to USAID, saying such gesture indicates the importance of the private sector in partnering to fight the disease.
“The test kits, with a testing capacity of 74,600, will support the prevention of mother-to-child transmission during antenatal 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, Ekuwem said the state government was committed to the health of its citizens.
He stated that many cases of HIV/AIDS infection were found among those living along the state’s shoreline as it serves as transit route for people travelling from some other countries.
He said the government had taken the development on the shoreline seriously to reduce the prevalence of the disease and called on the people to reciprocate.
Ekuwem also restated the government’s commitment to partnering with the 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 well-equipped and 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 added.
For his part, the deputy managing director, Belemaoil, Mr. Collins Amadi said the donation by the company was part of its efforts to support and continue the fight against HIV/AIDS in the state and across the Niger Delta.
He said the company was happy to partner with the USAID to advance the control 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 into advanced stage if not addressed at an early stage.
“The Belemaoil model is anchored on the principle of mutual wealth creation. We prioritise the health care needs and the growth of our people is 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.