Oyo State To Tackle HIV Spread Through Enhanced Community Programmes 

Yemisi Izuora

Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, declared on Wednesday that his administration will continue to build community programmes to ensure  the availability of  HIV services to all and sundry in the State.

The Governor, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Olubamiwo Adeosun, stated this during the launch of the HIV Treatment Surge by the Consul-General, United States Embassy in Nigeria, Lagos, Claire Pierangelo, held at the Theophilus Oladipo Ogunlesi Hall, Ibadan.

A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, quoted the governor as saying that the programme’s focus is on bringing forth and placing on the front burner, issues that seriously challenge the health care system in the country.

He added that the plan of the Oyo State Government is to ensure that healthcare services reach the vulnerable, underserved and underprivileged in the state.

The statement indicated that the Consul-General and her delegation had earlier, on Tuesday, paid a courtesy visit to the Governor at the Government House, Agodi, Ibadan, where the state’s delegation and the Consul General discussed issues of common interests and collaboration.

The statement quoted the Consul General as saying that the launch of HIV/AIDS Treatment Surge Programme would create more opportunities for many people to be put under treatment.

She added that “over the years, since 2003, the US Government has provided over 6 Billion Dollars to Nigeria in the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. We have 1.2m Nigerians currently under treatment for life.

“So, we are happy to come to Oyo State to identify and put under treatment as many people as possible in the state.

“Additionally, we are looking forward to other areas of cooperation in the aspect of training and immunisation of children.”

Speaking while receiving the US delegation, the Governor, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Adeosun, expressed the government’s readiness to partner with the US on the HIV programme and other public health interventions.

He added that the HIV Treatment Surge Programme would tie-in with the administration’s health programmes, as health remains one of the four service point agenda of the administration.

Speaking at the launch of the HIV Treatment Surge Programme on Wednesday, Governor Makinde equally expressed his pleasure with the initiative, which he said is aimed at increasing HIV case-finding by testing across all 33 LGAs in a strategic way and linking those positive to free treatment.

He declared that the state government will provide HIV test kits for 300,000 residents in the state.

He said: “This initiative, among other things, focuses on bringing forth and placing on the front burner issues that seriously challenge the health care system and is still of public health importance. HIV primarily affects those in their most productive years, especially women of reproductive age, children and adolescents.

“It also has a negative impact on households, communities, and economic growth of a country. Access to HIV testing, which is the gateway to prevention, treatment, and care services, is still limited and there is still no cure.

“HIV Treatment Surge Light Launch is expected to increase awareness of communities and health care providers on the need for women of reproductive age group, children, adolescents to get tested for HIV.”

Governor Makinde, who stated that the initiative will assist Oyo State to achieve the 2030 set target for HIV epidemic control, said the policy of the state is to provide accessible, affordable, equitable and qualitative healthcare for all, which is under the universal health care strategy to meet the SDG 3.

He added that the plan to ensure that healthcare services reach the vulnerable, underserved and underprivileged, remains on course.

The Governor said: “The health sector response to HIV can contribute to the achievement of ending the AIDS target, universal health coverage, and other key health and development targets as seen in SDG3.

“Therefore, this initiative is coming at the right time. The Oyo State Government realises the need to empower the people with necessary information to take an informed decision in seeking health services, hence the need to improve physical access to health facilities by working to ensure one PHC per ward across the state is renovated.

“It, therefore, behoves on our administration to respond accordingly to this HIV Treatment Surge Light launch in partnership and builds on other community programs to ensure HIV services are accessible to all.

“We are presently working in a proactive, and strategic way by leadership, partnership, accountability, and promoting preventive health-seeking behavior in our people across communities. This can be seen by the Free Health Mission presently going on across all the 33LGAs of the State.

“Meanwhile, the UN target 95-95-95, which ensures that 95 per cent of the population that are HIV positive know their HIV status and 95 per cent of those positive are placed on treatment and 95 per cent of those on treatment are virally suppressed to an “UNDETECTABLE” level, will break HIV transmission “UNTRANSMISIBLE”. This needs our joint efforts to ensure that “UNDETECTABLE” =”UNTRANSMITTABLE.”

The Governor called on all stakeholders to support the HIV Treatment Surge initiative by creating awareness in different communities on the need for people to know their HIV status and to encourage people living with HIV to remain on the life-long free treatment.

The Governor equally appreciated the US Consul-General, the CDC Country Director and APIN Public Health Initiatives (APIN) for providing prevention, care and treatment services to patients living with HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and other non-communicable diseases of Public Health.

“At this point, I would like to appreciate the US Consul-General, the CDC country director and her team. Also, the collaboration Oyo State has enjoyed with APIN Public Health Initiatives (APIN) a leading Nigerian Non-Governmental Organisation providing prevention, care and treatment services to patients living with HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and other non-communicable diseases of Public Health importance.

“APIN is the only Implementing Partner (IP), funded by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to execute the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) funded HIV/AIDS Program in Oyo State.

“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, while expressing my pleasure for sharing this moment with you, I need to state that it is my belief that this initiative being launched today will be making it possible to end HIV by year 2030 in line with the UN targets,” the governor added.

Earlier in her remarks at the launch, the US Consul-General, Pierangelo, said that since 2003, the U.S. government, through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, has invested more than $85 billion in the global HIV/ AIDS response and has contributed to saving more than 17 million lives across 54 PEPFAR-supported countries.

She thanked Governor Makinde for his commitment and leadership in supporting the ART Surge in Oyo State, saying that the programme is helping to identify people living with HIV and place those newly identified on free life-saving treatment and retaining those already receiving treatment.

“Here in Oyo State, by the end of March 2021 there were over 23,000 people living with HIV that received PEPFAR-supported treatment.

“Today, we are in Ibadan, Oyo State, to formally launch the ART Surge Programme. This program is helping to identify people living with HIV and place those newly identified on free life-saving treatment.

“It is also helping to retain those already receiving treatment. Both efforts are needed for better treatment outcomes and improved quality of life for those affected. The ART Surge Programme in Oyo State is building from a strong programmatic foundation, as well as strong leadership from Governor Makinde.

“We are now in the final lap to achieving epidemic control in Oyo State. We will reach this historic achievement if we can continue to work together to remove all barriers that may impact health-seeking behaviors among people living with HIV, including ending user fees, stigma, and discrimination,” Pierangelo said.

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