By Tony Nyong
UYO â€” Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State has said that the dissipation of resourcesÂ and ample time in finding solutions to the myriad of health issues facing the state was due to theÂ core concern of his administration to provide quality health care for the citizenry.
The governor stated this while commissioning the Molecular Virology (PCR) Laboratory at the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, where he was represented by his deputy, Engr. Patrick Ekpotu.
Stating that his govern-ment would continue to persevere in the direction of providing good health care for the people, the governor said one of the strategies of his administration to achieve maximum results in safeguar-ding the health needs of the people was continued collaboration with appro-priate agencies.
The laboratory was built by the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with support by the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHV-N) and the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative (CHAI) for early infant diagnosis of HIV and viral load monitoring.
Akpabio said, â€œIt is sure to thrive in our very supportive environment, and will remain dedicated to providing diagnostic services to HIV-exposed infants who are born to HIV-positive women in our region.â€
The governor urged that further sensitisation be carried out, noting that â€œours is a largely semilliterate society.
â€œIf we must achieve optimum result in this area, energy should be further dissipated in bringing to the knowledge of our people the benefit of this programme.â€
Reiterating the readiness of his administration to partner with all the HIV/AIDS health organizations in the state, the governor said his government was â€œembarking on the training of health personnel in 30 state hospitals and primary health care facilities in the acquisition of requisite knowledge in the area of Early Infant Diagnosis Services before the end of 2009.â€
The National Coordinator, HIV/AIDS in the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Jide Coker, said since the programme was rolled out in 2007, more than six laboratories had been built in the country with over 23,000 blood samples tested.
In his message to the occasion, the Nigeria Country Director of Clinton Foundation, Dr. Owens Wiwa, said apart from providing the laboratory, the foundation would work with all partners to ensure its functionality and sustainability of the programme in the country.
The Commissioner for Health, Dr Louisa Ukpe, noted thatÂ the first case of HIV/AIDS in the state was reported at the St. Lukeâ€™s Hospital, Anua, in 1989.
Ever since, she noted, Akwa Ibom State government has not relented in the efforts to contain the spread of the disease.
She noted that the administration of Chief Akpabio has increased the HIV/AIDS screening centres in the state from three in 2007 to 11, with twenty outlets established to offer services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus.
The out-going Chief Medical Director of the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, Prof. Emmanuel Ekanem, in his welcome address,Â observed that the PCR Laboratory Suite at the UUTH was the ninth to be set up in the country and the second in the South-South geo-political zone.
He declared:Â Â â€œIt is definitely a plus to efforts by medical science to combat the HIV scourge on humanity and more so, its additional advantage of early diagnosis of the virus in infants.â€