Port Harcourt—Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has commended the United States government for working with the state government to reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the State.
Also, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Stuart Symington said that the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, administered by the U.S. Center for Disease Control, CDC, U.S. Department of Defense, and U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID, was implementing an Anti-Retroviral Treatment, ART, surge program in Rivers state to identify and provide treatment to approximately 180,000 PLHIV who have not previously received such.
The two leaders spoke at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday, during a high profile meeting on the promotion of the health of Rivers people.
Wike said: “I want to thank the Government of the United States for working with the Rivers State Government to reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS.
“I thank the US Government for recognising the contributions of the Rivers State Government in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
“We will continue to work for the reduction of HIV/AIDS in the state. We are glad that we are partners to the US Government. For us, health is key. Education is key. With education, you can talk to people on measures to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.
“At present, with the support of the United States Government, we are running 115 sites to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS,” he said.
He said that the health programme of the Rivers State Government was yielding results as the immunisation statistics of the state has moved from 54 per cent to 82 per cent.
He thanked the United States Government for insisting that votes counted in Rivers State during the last general election.
In his remarks, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Stuart Symington said the U.S. government’s $75 million budget increase for HIV control activities in Nigeria, with about $25 million allocated for the ART surge activities.
Ambassador Symington thanked Governor Wike for announcing his intent to eliminate user-fees for PLHIV.
The U.S. delegation was in Rivers State to advocate the elimination of user-fees for all people living with HIV, antenatal care charges for pregnant women living with the virus, and other barriers hindering PLHIV from accessing health services.
The Ambassador emphasized that Governor Wike’s pronouncement serves as an example to other states and the federal government to eliminate such user fees.
On August 19, Ambassador Symington paid a similar visit to Akwa Ibom State governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel.