By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has reiterated its commitment towards scaling down the malaria and HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in Akwa Ibom State.
USAID Mission Director to Nigeria, Mr. Stephen Hawkins stated this on Monday during a courtesy visit to the state Commissioner of Health, Dr. Dominic Ukpong, in Uyo, the state capital.
Hawkins who was in the state to assess the level of response to HIV/AIDS pandemic given the support of the agency to the state in the healthcare delivery, said that his organisation would continue to build partnership with the state government to address the challenge posed by the pandemic.
“USAID has been building strong partnership with the Nigeria government in the fight against HIV/AIDS and we will like to continue with this. We are happy that your government has taken proactive steps in addressing the challenge in the state”
He commended the state government’s efforts in the fight against the scourge of malaria and HIV AIDS, saying it has better in Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART), treatment saturation.
The recent Nigerian HIV/AIDS Indicators and Impact Survey indicated that Akwa Ibom State has the highest prevalence rates of 5.5 per cent followed by Benue state with 5.3 per cent.
Earlier, in his address, the state Commissioner of Health, Dr Dominic Ukpong, expressed appreciation to the USAID director and his entourage for finding time to visit the state.
He commended the US government for committing about 31 million US dollars in the fight against malaria and HIV/AIDS pandemic in the state.
Ukpong said Akwa Ibom rosé to the challenge when it was classified as the highest in HIV/AIDS epidemic, hence it made tremendous strides to renovate health facilities to world class structures to be able to improve access incre acceptance thereby reducing stigma.
According to him, the state government is passionate about providing comprehensive health care services stressing that government’s commitment has led to the scaling down of the HIV/AIDS prevalence from 10.5 per cent in 2014 to 5.5 per cent currently.
His words, “On behalf of the state government I want to acknowledge the the help of our development partners. The US has put in a lot of resources about 31 millions US dollars in the fight against HIV/AIDS and Malaria in the state.
“This administration is committed towards providing health care services to all. When we came the prevalence HIV rates was 10.5 per cent but has come down to 5.5 per cent” Ukpong said.
At the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH), the chief medical director, Dr. Ememobong Bassey said the hospital being the highest treatment facility in the state has over the years enrolled 12,000 for testing.
Out of it 7,000 persons were active, 4,000 were receiving treatment at UUTH while 3,000 were referred to other health facilities across the state.
He also said tha UUTH has with support from PEPFAR through USAID renovated and equipped Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) mega laboratory which has strengthened viral load assay, early infant diagnosis in the state.
New Nigerian Newspapers in Uyo observed that the USAID Mission Director, Mr. Stephen Hawkins in the entourage of the US ambassador to Nigeria, Staurt Symington visited General Hospital, Ituk Mbang, University of Uyo Teaching hospital and Ibom Specialist hospital, Uyo to access the results of the agency’s intervention program to the state in health care services and see which areas it can further assist.