Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has abolished payments of user-fees for persons living with HIV/AIDS who want to access treatment at state-owned health facilities.
Wike said the state government would take over the payment of the user-fees to encourage more people to seek treatment for HIV/AIDS.
He stated this yesterday during a courtesy visit by a delegation from the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention under the auspices of the Institute of Human Virology of Nigeria at the Government House in Port Harcourt.
Wike said: “We will stop all fees collected as user-fees for persons under the HIV/AIDS treatment programme. This is our contribution to the partnership with the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We will take over the payment of the HIV/AIDS user-fees for the public health facilities in the state.
“The state deputy governor will be in charge of the programme since she is a medical doctor. We are committed to working with the US Government to ensure we tackle this disease.”
He said the state government would also support the efforts of the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and Institute of Human Virology of Nigeria in the programme against HIV/AIDS.
According to the governor, “The Rivers State Government will take all necessary measures to assist the centre in this current push across the state.
“All the necessary support will be extended to the agency as they work in different locations of the state.”
Head of the delegation of the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Tedd Ellerbrock, said 210, 000 persons are currently infected with HIV/AIDS in Rivers State with 40, 000 currently on anti-retroviral treatment.
He said the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention is launching a new programme where 110,000 infected persons would be placed on anti-retroviral treatment to stem the spread of the disease and control the epidemic.
He appealed to the state government to take over the payment of user-fees for persons living with HIV/AIDS who want anti-retroviral treatment.
“The United States Government is funding the Institute of Human Virology of Nigeria in this effort. The US Government will be deeply involved in all the 23 local government areas of the state.
“We will deeply appreciate it if you will help us with the user-fees. We have found out that if there are user-fees, people would be discouraged from coming forward to seek treatment. We are providing the anti-retroviral drugs and the US Government is paying for the programme,” he said.