By Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo
Akwa Ibom state has threatened to punish any health worker who charges fees from categories of persons that are considered to access free Healthcare service in the state especially People Living with HIV AIDS (PLWHA) children under five and the elderly.
According to a press statement made available to newsmen yesterday in Uyo, the state government reiterated its commitment to the removal of user fees for all HIV related services.
The circular which was signed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health Dr. Patrick Essiet directed that the circular be widely circulated for all health workers to be properly guided.
It reads “In accordance with the policy of the government of His Excellency, Mr Udom Emmanuel to provide free, accessible and quality health care services to children under the age of five, pregnant women, the aged over 65 years and other categories as may be determined by government, the Commissioner for Health has reiterated that free services given to People Living with HIV AIDS (PLWHA) is still in force.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the prohibition of user fee for HIV related services is still in force in the state. By this notice, all health workers should be properly guided as there will be consequences for defaulters”
“This is an effort by the state government to remove all barriers to treatment of People Living With HIV AIDS.
It could be recalled that the National AIDS Indicator Impact Survey (NAIIS) recently disclosed that Akwa Ibom has witnessed a significant drop in the prevalence of HIV from 10.8% (ANC Survey 2013) to 5.5% (NAIIS 2018).
This puts the number of persons living with HIV in the State at 178,051 out of which 52,780 persons are currently on sustained Antiretroviral treatment while a significant number of persons in the State were yet to know their HIV status and 125,271 persons infected with HIV needs to be diagnosed and placed on lifelong therapy.