The Akwa Ibom State government has removed user fees for all HIV services to further reaffirm its commitment to help combat the spread of the disease in the State.
This was announced when a team from Office of the Global AIDs Coordinator (OGAC), Washington DC, led by Bill Paul – Nigerian Chair, paid a courtesy call to the commissioner for health, Dr Dominic Ukpong. It was shortly followed by a circular which was signed by the permanent secretary, ministry of health – Dr Patrick Essiet.
It reads in part:
“This is a continued effort by the government of His Excellency Mr Udom Emmanuel to provide free, accessible and quality health services to children under the age of five, pregnant women, the aged over 65 years and other categories of persons as may be determined by the government.” The permanent secretary further implored health workers to be properly guided as there will be consequences for non-compliance to the directive.
The recent National AIDS Indicator Impact Survey (NAIIS) has revealed that Akwa Ibom State has witnessed a significant drop in the prevalence of HIV from 10.8% (ANC Survey 2013) to 5.5% (NAIIS 2018) i.e. 5.5% of people aged 15-64 years estimated to be infected with the virus.
It can be recalled that the United States Ambassador to Nigeria – Stuart W. Symington in August 2019 visited His Excellency the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State to launch USG most important effort – to save lives that would have otherwise been lost. His advocacy was to ensure all those living with HIV know their status and those who are positive are commenced and retained on treatment.