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U.S. assures Imo of partnership in healthcare, citizens’ wellbeing

By Charles Ogugbuaja, Owerri
19 October 2021   |   2:53 am
The United States has assured the Imo State Government of partnership in policies bordering on citizens’ wellbeing and healthcare, especially in tackling HIV/AIDS.

Hope Uzodimma

The United States has assured Imo State Government of partnership in policies bordering on citizens’ wellbeing and healthcare, especially in tackling HIV/AIDS.

To that effect, the U.S. Government has promised to provide 1.6 million Nigerians with life-saving HIV treatment facilities.

Speaking when she visited Governor Hope Uzodimma, at Douglas House, Owerri, Chargé d’Affaires, U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, Ms. Kathleen FitzGibbon, urged the governor to consolidate on his efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS and lifesaving services.

According to the U.S. envoy, Imo is a critical area for the national HIV policy and implementation.

Her words: “The Imo government’s support is critical to ensuring that we collectively move the state towards ending the HIV epidemic.

“U.S. support to Imo is provided through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the implementing partner, the Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria (CCFN). They are working hand-in-hand to expand HIV clinical services and enhance programme management.”

The joint goal, she added, was to accelerate the initiation of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) on lifesaving, anti-retroviral therapy, while simultaneously building capacity for the healthcare workforce.

“The Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) results prioritised seven states based on unmet treatment needs and coverage. Imo was classified as a state with low saturation and high unmet need.

“Using NAIIS data, we can target areas and populations where we are likely to find HIV-positive individuals, making the programme more efficient. From 2019 to 2021, Imo has made tremendous progress, with over 36,000 PLHIV on treatment in 2021 versus 13,000 in 2019, moving the state from 20 per cent treatment coverage to 57 per cent.”

FitzGibbon urged Uzodimma, to build on his commitment to the healthcare system, including prioritising healthcare workers to help sustain the expanded HIV programme and other critical public health services.

On stigma and discrimination, she emphasised the need to address them through continuous testing.

In his response, Uzodimma, who commended his guest for the visit and assistance, urged he envoy to forward his request on the possible ways the U.S. Government could also assist the state in the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), especially on the vaccines.

He also appealed to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and other donor agencies in that regard.

The visit witnessed the conferment of Odi Uko na Mba (Rare gem in the land) chieftaincy title on FitzGibbon, by the Chairman of Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers/Chairman of the Committee on Community Policing, Emmanuel Okeke.