A leading Nigerian oil and gas firm, Belema Oil has donated test kits to support United States Agency for International Development (USAID)‘s HIV/AIDS eradication efforts in Akwa Ibom State.
A statement by USAID said the donation was received on behalf of the United States government by Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard.
It said the donation is to support activities by the USAID to eradicate HIV and AIDS in Akwa Ibom State.
According to the statement the handover took place in a ceremony between Ambassador Leonard, who is leading the U.S. delegation on a tour of the U.S. government activities in Akwa Ibom, President and Founder of Belema Oil Nigeria Ltd. Tein Jack-Rich,
the Secretary to the Akwa-Ibom State Government, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, USAID Nigeria Mission Director, Dr. Anne Patterson, and the State Commissioner of Health, Prof. Augustine Umoh.
The statement said the donation brought together the U.S. strategy under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) implemented by USAID, Centres for Disease Control (CDC), and Department of Defense, and the oil giant Belema Oil through its corporate social responsibility program to deepen private sector involvement in Nigeria’s health sector to strengthen healthcare and achieve HIV epidemic control in Akwa Ibom.
Ambassador Leonard during the ceremony said: “We celebrate the incredible strides made in Akwa Ibom over the last two years to control HIV,” adding that: “We are committed to continuing this partnership to help ensure that residents of Akwa Ibom who need these services can access them without barriers. We also encourage other private sector partners to support the national HIV response.”
The donated test kits, with a testing capacity of 74,600, according to the statement, will support the prevention of mother-to-child transmission services within antenatal clinics and provide critical HIV testing services to numerous young children and others who are at risk.
The statement said even with the challenges of the COVID pandemic, Akwa Ibom, with USAID’s support, has made remarkable progress in its efforts to eradicate the epidemic. The number of people receiving life-saving HIV treatment in the State has increased from 19 percent to 82 percent, with 35,000 people in 2019 to over 156,000 in 2021.
Belema Oil President Jack-Rich added: “This contribution is part of our commitment to consistent engagement through reputable partners like USAID to support states and communities in the Niger Delta, and indeed all across Nigeria.”
An estimated 1.9 million Nigerians are living with HIV/AIDS, according to the U.S.-supported Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) of 2018. The United States, through PEPFAR, supports 80 percent of all HIV/AIDS treatment services provided in Nigeria.
Through PEPFAR, USAID supports 16 states, including Akwa Ibom, to deliver client-centered HIV treatment services to over 500,000 individuals and delivers HIV test kits, medicines, and laboratory reagents to provide life-saving HIV treatment to over 1.4 million Nigerians throughout the country. USAID also provides comprehensive services to over 500,000 vulnerable children and their caregivers impacted by HIV.