The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Bayelsa has dropped from 9.1 per cent in 2010 to 3.8 per cent in 2016, the state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Ebitimi Etebu, has said.
He said this on Thursday in Yenagoa while speaking at a programme to end a two-year project for the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS, sponsored by Chevron Nigeria Ltd (CNL).
Etebu attributed the decline to sustained partnership between the state government and donor agencies as well as improved funding of the Bayelsa Action Committee on AIDS.
He said his ministry has carefully monitored the steady decline and the sustained awareness created around the virus.
“We are happy of the progress made in the last six years,’’ he said.
Mr Esimaje Brikinn, General Manager, Government and Public Affairs in Chevron, said the prevention of mother to child transmission was to assist women in the social sustainable community based initiative in the Niger Delta.
He said that the firm had sponsored the first phase of the project in 2012 and concluded in 2014, while the second phase commenced in 2016 and terminate in April 2018.
Birikin said that Chevron had spent $1.43 million for the second phase of prevention of mother to child Transmission (PROMOT 2) over a two-year period; from 2014 to 2016.
“Some of us here today will recollect that PROMOT 1 was a great success, as it helped contribute to the reduction of Bayelsa’s HIV prevalence from 9.1 per cent in 2010 to 3.8 per cent.
“Bayelsa was number three among the 36 states in Nigeria, but today Bayelsa is listed in the 15th position.
“Just like PROMOT 1, PROMOT 2 has helped increase up take of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTC) of HIV services in target populations,’’ he added.
He said this was achieved by increasing community awareness of PMTC services and through community-based mentoring and support for HIV-positive pregnant women.
“It helped in creating a sustainable-based and government-supported PMTC community outreach programme that has continued to build demand for ante-natal services,” he said.
Speaking earlier, Mrs Rabi Sani, Country Director of Pact West Africa, the implementing NGO, said over 56,000 pregnant women have been tested.
She said that more than 300,000 pregnant women were exposed to PROMOT messages, while 700 community health extension workers were trained on new techniques for prevention of mother to child transmission.
Also Mrs Faith Imomotimi, a women leader at Ofonbiri in Kolokumo/Opokuma Local Government Area of Bayelsa, commended the donor as it has changed the attitude of women who used to prefer Traditional Birth Attendants to health centres.
“We are glad at the impact of the programme, the health facility was desolate, and there were no patients before.
“Now, there are patients, we now have two resident doctors due to the upsurge in the number of patients,” she said. (NAN)