US combs Port Harcourt with war chest against HIV/AIDS

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  • Hails Gov Wike for removing fees to drugs
  • Ready to support NDDC
  • Feels good with Shell for anti-HIV/AIDS activities but meeting shifted

By Codratus Godson

The US government through the ambassador in Nigeria has announced another $75m financial war chest in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Nigeria and has moved to help stop the spread in the oil region.

The US team which had met with the Akwa Ibom State government moved to Port Harcourt where they met with the Rivers State governor, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), and scheduled meetings with Shell officials. The team seems to meet those who have shown significant commitment to in the fight against the virus either with policy instruments or with programmes and funds.

Details:

GOV WIKE

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has commended the United States Government for working with the State Government to reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the State.

Also, the United States 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) is 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 on Tuesday during a high profile meeting on the promotion of the health of Rivers people.

Governor 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 United States Government for recognising the contributions of the Rivers State Government in the fight against  HIV/AIDS “.

Governor Wike assured the United States Government that his administration will continue to fund programmes that will reduce the prevalence of the healthcare challenge.

“We will continue  to work for the reduction of HIV/AIDS in the state. We are glad  that we are partners with 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 programmes  of the Rivers State Government is yielding results as the immunisation statistics of the state has moved from 54percent  to 82 percent.

Speaking further, Governor Wike thanked the United States Government for insisting that votes count in Rivers  State during the last General Elections.
He said that the United States Government ensured that democracy survived in the country, despite  the fact that it came under threat.
It will recalled  that Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike recently announced that the Rivers State Government will pay the user-fees for People Living with HIV in the state to access free treatment.

In his remarks, the United States 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 for 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 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 Udom Emmanuel.

“The United States remains committed to supporting Nigeria as it works to reduce and ultimately eliminate the scourge of HIV/AIDS among its people,” Ambassador Symington said.

He noted the increased funding to make anti-retroviral available would enable more people living with HIV to lead healthy, productive lives until the day a cure for the virus is found.

The Ambassador noted that disbursement of the additional PEPFAR HIV funds are contingent upon Nigerian federal and state governments reducing or eliminating financial barriers to PLHIV access to services, in particular fees charged by healthcare facilities for non-essential services or those already provided by PEPFAR.

(Source: Simeon Nwakaudu, Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor, Electronic Media)

NDDC:

The United States Consulate in Nigeria has commended the progress made so far by the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, in its quest to fast-track the development of the Niger Delta region and promised to support the effort.

Speaking during a courtesy visit to the NDDC management at the Commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt, the US Deputy Chief of Mission to Nigeria, Ambassador Kathleen FitzGibbon, expressed delight at the achievements of the interventionist agency.

FitzGibbon, accompanied by other diplomats, had earlier held a strategy meeting with the NDDC Acting Executive Director Finance and Administration, Dr Chris Amadi, who represented the Acting Managing Director, Prof Nelson Brambaifa.

The US envoy declared: “I am happy to see the progress made by NDDC since its inception. Please, consider the US a support in the development of the region.”

FitzGibbon said that the US was implementing an Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) programme in some Niger Delta states and would need to partner with development agencies like the NDDC. She said that the relevant US agencies would welcome partnerships to increase funding for the provision of anti-retroviral drugs to enable more people living with HIV to lead healthy and productive lives.

The Ambassador said that the American government was committed to supporting Nigeria to reduce and ultimately eliminate the scourge of HIV/AIDS in the country.

Responding on behalf of the NDDC Acting Managing Director, Dr Amadi, said that NDDC was ready to partner with US agencies in fighting the menace of HIV/AIDS in the Niger Delta region.

He said: “We recognize the need for more collaboration between the NDDC and various US agencies. We are willing to partner with the various agencies because the Commission alone cannot meet the funding needs for the development of the Niger Delta.”

Dr Amadi stated that funding was a major challenge for the NDDC in delivering development projects in its mandate states, noting that the oil-producing areas could not afford any further neglect. He emphasized that the projects were necessary to ensure peace and security in the Niger Delta region.

The Executive Director Finance and Administration stressed the need to re-activate the NDDC Advisory Committee to ensure that all stakeholders worked in harmony, stating that it would help in building synergy with the state governments to ensure impactful human and infrastructural development.

He said that a functional Advisory Committee would achieve a lot, especially in ensuring that the governors spoke with one voice in asking for the payment of all outstanding statutory obligations to the NDDC in order to fast-track development in the Niger Delta region.

Dr Amadi remarked that the NDDC had initiated actions to recover all outstanding remittances from oil and gas companies in fulfillment of their statutory financial obligations to the Commission.

The NDDC Executive Director told the US diplomats that the Commission had delivered several projects, totaling 9,855 across the region since its inception. The projects, he said, included roads, bridges, hospitals and electricity.

He noted that one of the outstanding projects was the 29-kilometre Ogbia Nembe Road, which was ready for commissioning. “We have invited President Muhammadu Buhari to commission the N24 billion road, which creates a land route to Nembe, and also opens up arable lands for economic activities in Bayelsa State,” Dr Amadi said.

(Source: Charles Obi Odili, Director, Corporate Affairs)

AMBASSADOR

People Living with HIV (PLHIV) globally require appropriate medical treatment in order to live a normal and healthy life.

The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) administered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), U.S. Department of Defense, and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is 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.

On August 20, Ambassador W. Stuart Symington led a U.S. delegation on a courtesy visit to Rivers state governor Nyesom Wike at Government House, Port-Harcourt to highlight 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 for 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 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 Udom Emmanuel.

“The United States remains committed to supporting Nigeria as it works to reduce and ultimately eliminate the scourge of HIV/AIDS among its people,” Ambassador Symington said.  He noted the increased funding to make anti-retrovirals available would enable more people living with HIV to lead healthy, productive lives until the day a cure for the virus is found.

The Ambassador noted that disbursement of the additional PEPFAR HIV funds are contingent upon Nigerian federal and state governments reducing or eliminating financial barriers to PLHIV access to services, in particular fees charged by healthcare facilities for non-essential services or those already provided by PEPFAR.

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