By Theresa Ukpong, Uyo
Governor Udom Emmanuel seeks for greater collaboration with the United States Embassy, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other donor agencies undertaking HIV/AIDS intervention in Akwa Ibom state.
Governor Udom stated this during a courtesy visit to him by the Deputy chief of missions of the United States Embassy, Nigeria, Ms.Kathleen FitzGibbon and the Deputy Chief of Missions of (USAID) Ms. Katie Donohoe at his country home in Awa Iman, Onna Local Government Area.
He louded the need for the state apparatus to be more involved in the budgeting processes of health programmes designed to address the plight of persons living with HIV in Akwa Ibom state.
Governor Emmanuel described as huge, the amount said to have been expended in the state during the past ten years on the HIV/AIDS treatment by USAID and stated the need for stronger collaboration to ensure targeted intervention to avoid duplication of efforts and dissipation of resources. He also noted that most of the rural areas may not be aware of enormity of the HIV situation in the State and the efforts of the State Government and all the donor agencies, hence the need to synergize efforts especially in the financial planning and implementation of the HIV intervention efforts in the state.
While thanking the U.S missions for their contributions towards the fight against the various diseases, He pledged the state Government’s support in undertaking enlightenment campaigns to reduce HIV related stigma and provision of other resources (including rapid test kits) provided synergy and accountability is assured in the handling of funding provided by the U S Government
Mr Emmanuel also siezed the opportunity to made a case for the reconsideration of the recent visa ban for Akwa Ibom citizens by the Government of United States, stressing that many have genuine businesses to transact in the United States.
Moreover, the Deputy Chief of Missions U. S Embassy, Kathleen Fitzgibbon stated that the visit was to inform the Government of the assistance given by the United States of America in the fight against HIV/AIDS and to solicit for more support from the Governmrnt to ensure that the state has Zero tolerance for stigmatisation of people living with the virus thus ensuring greater access to quality anti-retroviral drugs that would sustain life and also prevent the spread of the disease. She also emphasized the need for the state to enact the anti-stigma law to reduce HIV related stigma in the state.
She also intimated the state government about the mega PCR Lab provided for the state by USAID and requested for personnel (Medical Lab Scientists) to assist in the running of the center.
She used the occasion of the visit to condole with the Governor and family over the demise of their father and prayed for the eternal repose of the soul of Late Gabriel Nkanang.
Present during the visit were the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Emmanuel Ekuwem, Commissioner for Health, Dr. Dominic Ukpong, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Multilateral & Donor Agencies, Mr Nana Udom, Vice Chancellor University of Uyo, Prof Enefiok Essien S.A.N, and management of Agencies in the state charged with the responsibility of partnering with the State Government.
And others were:
Dr. Nkereuwem Etok – Program Manager, Akwa Ibom State Agency for the Control of AIDS (AKSACA); Moses Katbi, Team Lead, Priority population/community linkages – USAID Nigeria; Dolapo Ogundehin, Team Lead, Continuum of Treatment – USAID Nigeria; Chris Obanubi, Akwa Ibom State ART Surge lead- USAID Nigeria; Dr. Salma Anas Kolo, Country Director; Dr Kunle Kakanfo, State Director, Surge Implementation; Helen Mfon-Obong Idiong – State Program Officer; Edidong Sambo – SBCC Specialist; Ngozi Ezema – Program Management , Associate Director;
Dr. Kolawole Olatunbosun – State lead, JHIPHEGO; Dr Idayat Uthman – UNAIDS; Paul Umoh, Deputy Chief of Party, Heartland Alliance; Dr. Ngozi Noel-Ogamba, Heartland Alliance; Tarya Fom, Data for Implementation; Dr. Michael Ejeh, Center for Clinical Care and Research Nigeria (CCCRN); Iniobong Enyenihi, Network of People Living with HIV in Nigeria (NEPWHAN) and
Elizabeth Sampson Udoh, ASHWAN – Association of Women Living with HIV in Nigeria.