The United States Government through its Embassy in Nigeria, has assured Imo State of its support for identification and provision of treatment to approximately 43,000 people living with HIV in the state.
This was made known in a statement by the Public Affairs Unit of the U.S. Embassy on Wednesday, December 11, 2019 in Abuja.
According to the statement, the support would be extended to over 14,000 people already receiving such treatment through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), programme.
It stated that the assurance was given when the U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission, Kathleen FitzGibbon, led a delegation on a courtesy call to Governor Emeka Ihedioha.
The delegation included a team from PEPFAR, and the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The statement quoted FlitzGibbon as describing HIV epidemic in Imo as “critical and requiring rapid and sustained efforts to identify the victims and put them on life-saving anti-retroviral treatment.”
Such a move, she said, would not only ensure that the PLHIVs live a long, normal, productive, and healthy life, but will also help in breaking the transmission of the virus to sexual partners.
She said that the treatment programme would thereby improve the state’s health indices and enhance efforts to control the HIV epidemic.
FitzGibbon acknowledged the work that had been accomplished by the Government and other stakeholders, who partnered with PEPFAR and CDC over the years, to ensure that over 14,000 people living with HIV in the State were receiving life-saving treatment.
“Considering the over 43,000 others that need to be identified, all stakeholders must increase their efforts as part of the CDC-led PEPFAR ART surge in the State,” the diplomat said.
The Deputy Chief of Mission also emphasised the significance of Imo in the trajectory of HIV/AIDS epidemic control in Nigeria.
“Imo’s population, geographic location, diversify and status as a tourism and hospitality centre in the south-east make it an important area of focus for the delivery of HIV/AIDS services in the country,” she said.
FlitzGibbon highlighted to Ihedioha the negative effect of the payment of some user-fees, which serves as a major barrier to people living with HIV, from accessing treatment.
She called for the immediate elimination of such fees, particularly fees charged by healthcare facilities for non-essential services or those already provided by PEPFAR.
She said that the U.S. government had increased its budget for HIV control activities in Nigeria, with increased focus on identifying and putting more people on treatment through the ART.
FlitzGibbon explained that this would enable more people with HIV to live healthy, productive lives, especially now that adherence to treatment leads to the virus becoming undetectable and therefore not transmittable to sexual partner.
She requested Ihedioha to prioritise the procurement of additional HIV test kits to support the current PEPFAR initiated surge efforts.
She said that the additional test kits were necessary for identifying people living with HIV in rural communities of the state.
She emphasised that such urgent intervention would help in moving Imo towards HIV epidemic control by September 2020.
According to the statement, the highlight of the visit was the formal launch of the Imo ART Surge Programme by Gov Ihedioha, who pledged to work with the U.S. Government and other stakeholders.
Ihedioha declared the immediate elimination of the payment of “user-fee” charges points of seeking care in Imo State hospitals and other health facilities, to serve as a major incentive to people living with HIV accessing treatment.
He said that the state and local governments would come up with a mechanism of reimbursing the facilities since the fees had now been waived.
Ihedioha said that the state government had made provision in its 2020 budget for the purchase of additional HIV test kits to complement the commodities already being provided by PEPFAR.
According to the statement, the recently released data from the U.S.-supported Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey revealed that there were approximately 1.9 million people still living with the virus in Nigeria.
It quoted the survey as revealing that approximately 58,000 of the population reside in Imo, adding that they required appropriate medical treatment to live a normal, productive and healthy life.
The U.S. Government recently announced support to Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Enugu, Lagos, and Nasarawa States for the launch of an ART Surge, a programmme designed to put an additional 500,000 people living with HIV on treatment.
The 500,000 people will be in addition to the more than 800,000 people already on treatment as part of the overall PEPFAR intervention.
Archbishop Of Canterbury Speaks On Killing Of CAN Chairman, Other Christians By Boko Haram
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Portal Welby has reacted to the killing of Lawan Andimi, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State by Boko Haram insurgents.
Andimi was abducted by Boko Haram when they attacked Michika on January 3.
Initially, he was declared missing but later appeared in a video released by Boko Haram, wherein he pleaded with authorities to secure his release.
Joining voices with those who condemned the attack, Archbishop Welby described the death of Andimi as an attack on Christians.
While reacting via his Twitter handle, the Archbishop wrote: “Boko Haram’s murder of Lawan Andimi, a prominent Christian leader in Nigeria, is another attack on Christians, as we saw at Christmas.
“His last statement was of faith and hope. We must thank God for his witness and pray for his family, and for authorities to be effective.”
Meanwhile, CAN has rejected the reaction of President Muhammadu Buhari to.Boko Haram killing of Lawan Andimi.
At a World Press Conference, CAN President, Rev Samson Ayokunle, said it was now clear that Christians were endangered citizens in Nigeria.
The body said as long as the government continues to live in denial and fails to face the reality, the criminals will not stop their criminalities.
CAN further made ten demands and urged President Buhari to take immediate action.
Why We Accepted Materials Brought By Uzodinma — Supreme Court
The Supreme Court yesterday said the Independent National Electoral Commission did not counter the result sheets produced by Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress in the March 9, 2019 governorship election in Imo State which made them admissible.
The apex court, in a copy of the judgment released yesterday said the Court of Appeal and the election petition tribunal misread the pleadings by Uzodinma and APC in their dismissal of the petition and appeal.
The Supreme Court had on January 14 nullified the election of Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party who polled 273,404, and declared Uzodinma who polled 96,458 votes winner after his 213, 695 votes from 388 polling units were added to his total result.
According to the Supreme Court, the main issue by Uzodinma and APC was that votes due to them in 388 polling units were excluded, which if added, they would have emerged winners.
In the lead judgment read by Justice Kudirate Kekere-Ekun, the apex court said while INEC alleged that the results pleaded by Uzodinma, through the police officer, were false, it did not call any witness and did not tender any documents to counter it.
“Having pleaded that the documents are false, the respondents made allegations of a criminal nature against the appellants. They were required to plead the specific elements of fraud and lead evidence showing the genuine results. Not only must the allegations be proved beyond reasonable doubt, it must also be proved that the appellants personally committed or aided and abetted the commission of the crime or that they procured the commission of the crime through their agents or officials,” she said.
Facebook Shuts Down Nnamdi Kanu’s Page
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) on Thursday said the Facebook page of its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu has been shut down.
The group’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, in a statement, alleged that the action was taken by Facebook Nigeria who, it said viewed the page as a platform to exposing the ills in government.
It warned that Biafra had suffered greatly as a result of denial of media space in the late 60s, saying it could not afford to allow same to continue in the 21st century.
The statement reads in part: “We can confirm that Facebook Nigeria has shut down the page of our leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
“This is not unconnected with the fact that our leader’s page has become a rich resource for those determined to expose the evil regime in Nigeria and enthrone a better life for the masses.
“We mince no words when we say that Facebook Nigeria is more corrupt that the corrupt government they are seeking to protect.
“Biafra suffered immeasurably as a result of denial of media space in the late 60s a situation we are not prepared to allow in this 21st century.”