Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, said the government would commit N100 million to fight the spread of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in the state.
The governor made this known at the launch of HIV Surge in Asaba, yestetrday.
He urged that all hands must be on deck to check the HIV Surge, and warned that nobody should collect fees of any kind on HIV cases.
He also directed the state government-owned media houses not to collect any fee for HIV-related campaigns.
Okowa announced that laws against stigmatisation and victimisation of HIV patients would be promulgated in the state soon.
He said HIV testing services should be given top priority, particularly in rural communities, saying local areas were critical to the overall HIV/AIDS response and services.
“Let me assure you of my administration’s readiness to creating an enabling environment and support for all HIV/AIDS programmes.
“I am taking up the fight against HIV/AIDS as one of my administration’s top priorities; we are committing N100 million to ensure our people, especially those who are in the riverside communities are reached.
“We will treat unkindly anybody who charges users fee for HIV treatment both in the secondary and our primary health facilities.
“The Delta State Government has been offering free maternal services for all pregnant women and under-five children in the state through its equity plan in the Delta State Contributory Health Insurance Scheme, which includes free HIV test and counselling.
“Equally, the government has been making funds available to the agency for the control of HIV/AIDS, for the procurement of HIV test kits and consumables to fill in emerging gaps in some of our facilities and support to partners,” he said.
The governor added that Delta State Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS, which was critical in all HIV/AIDS matters, had been repositioned to effectively coordinate all HIV/AIDS activities in the state.
According to him, we are working to ensure the legislature makes law against the stigmatisation and victimisation of people living with the HIV.
“Media houses in the state should not collect money for any publication or materials for radio and television that will create more awareness for the HIV.
“I wish to reiterate my earlier call for more partners and stakeholders, including friends of the state, to join hands to make Delta State HIV-free and provide succour to those already living with the virus.
“More than ever before, this is the time to redouble our commitments to tackling the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the state,” he said.
Okowa expressed gratitude to United States government through its PEPFAR programme, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), CARITAS Nigeria, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Excellence Community Educational Welfare Scheme (ECWES) for their collaborations, assistance and privileges extended to the state over the years towards eradicating and working to attain zero HIV.