Wike abolishes fees for treatment of HIV patients

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Tony John, Port Harcourt

Rivers Governor, Nyesom Wike, has abolished the payments of user-fees for persons living with HIV/AIDS, who want to access treatment at state-owned health facilities. 

Wike said the state government will take over the payment of the user-fees to encourage more Rivers people to seek treatment for HIV/AIDS.

He spoke, yesterday, during a courtesy visit by an American delegation from the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention under the auspices of the Institute of Human Virology of Nigeria, at the Government House, Port Harcourt.

Wike said: “We will stop all fees collected as user-fees for persons under the HIV/AIDS treatment programme. This is our contribution to the partnership with the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We will take over the payment of the HIV/AIDS user-fees for the public health facilities in the state.

“The deputy governor will be in charge of the programme since she is a medical doctor. We are committed to working with the United States government to ensure we tackle this disease.”

He said the state government would support the efforts of the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and Institute of Human Virology of Nigeria in the programme against HIV/AIDS.

“The Rivers State government will take all necessary measures to assist the centre in this current push across the state.

“All the necessary support will be extended to the agency as it work in different locations of Rivers State,” the governor stated.

Head of the delegation, Tedd Ellerbrock, said 210, 000 persons were currently infected with HIV/AIDS  in Rivers State, with 40,000 currently on anti-retroviral treatment.

He said the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention is launching a new  programme, where 110,000 infected persons would be placed on anti-retroviral treatment to stem the spread of the disease and control the epidemic.

He appealed to the state government to take over the payment of user-fees for persons living with HIV/AIDS who want anti-retroviral treatment.

“The United States government is funding the Institute of Human Virology of Nigeria in this effort and will be deeply involved in all the 23 local government areas. We will appreciate if you will help us with the user-fees. We have found that if there are user-fees, people are discouraged from coming forward to seek treatment.

“We are providing the anti-retroviral drugs and the US government is paying for the programme,” he said.

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