An oil firm, Belemaoil, on Thursday donated 74,600 HIV/AIDS capacity test kits to the Akwa Ibom State Government to enhance the control of the disease.
The test kits which were donated to support USAID’s HIV/AIDS eradication efforts in Akwa Ibom, were handed over by the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Leonard, to the state government.
The kits were received by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem, on behalf of the state government.
She said that the contributions of Belemaoil to USAID show the importance of the private sector in partnering to fighting the disease.
The US envoy added that the collaboration of the state government and other agencies had greatly helped in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the state.
“The test kits, with a testing capacity of 74,600, will support prevention of mother-to-child transmission services within antenatal clinics and provide critical HIV testing services to numerous young children and others who are at risk.
“Even with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Akwa Ibom, with USAID’S support, has made remarkable progress in its efforts to eradicate the epidemic.
“The number of people receiving life saving HIV treatment in the state has increased from 19 per cent to 82 per cent, with 35, 000 people in 2019 to over 156,000 in 2021,” Leonard said.
Also speaking, Ekuwem said the state government was committed to the health of its citizens, and does not allow people to treat HIV/AIDS with levity.
Ekuwem, who said if everyone were to take HIV/AIDS as serious as COVID-19, the disease would have been tamed.
He said that the many cases of HIV/AIDS infection were found among those living along the shoreline of the state, as it was a transit for many people from other countries into the state.
Ekuwem said the government was taking what happened at the shores of the state seriously to reduce the surge, adding that everyone must do same to curtail the spread.
He emphasised that the state government would continue to partner USAID and its other implementation partners.
“The governor of Akwa Ibom State knows that without a healthy population, there can be no socio-economic development and growth.
“He is very convinced of this, that is why as soon as he assumed office as the governor, he remodeled hospitals and it just remains about two, one in Ikot Abasi and Ikot Ekpene that is being tidied up now.
“He promised that in one of every federal constituency, there will be one very well equipped and very well manned general hospital.
“He is working assiduously at having the University Teaching Hospital which is going to be part of the Faculty of Medicine, Akwa Ibom State University.
“HIV/AIDS disease will remain with us. Nobody should treat this malady with levity, it is as serious as it is. There should be no superstitions about it and all hands should be on deck to make sure that this malady is tamed,” Ekuwem said.
In his remarks, the Deputy Managing Director, Belemaoil, Mr Collins Amadi, said the donation was part of the country’s efforts to support and continue the fight against HIV/AIDS in the state and across the Niger Delta.
Amadi said that the company was delighted to form the partnership with USAID aimed at advancing the control method of HIV infection in the state, the Niger Delta and the country in general.
He hoped that the partnership would achieve the desired objectives and galvanise the consciousness of the private sector to support related programmes that would engender a health society.
“As a young, indigenous, oil producing company, we consider it a privilege to be part of the global effort to combat the scourge of HIV/AIDS in the area of early prevention which can degenerate to an advanced stage if not addressed at an early stage.
“The Belemaoil’s model is anchored on the principle of mutual wealth creation.
“We prioritise the healthcare needs and exponential of our people is key and vital to achieving the much needed wealth and prosperity for our host communities and other communities in the Niger Delta,” he said. (NAN)