By VICTOR NZE
The campaign against the Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) scourge in the country received a boost, last weekend, as United States-based oil firm, Chevron Corporation announced the donation of $2.5 million to the Global Fund’s Anti-Retroviral Treatment Service Maintenance Programme in Delta, Bayelsa, Ondo and Lagos states.
The money to be disbursed next year among health agencies across the country represents the final installment on the US$5million set aside for the support of programmes in the fight against the Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) scourge in Nigeria by Chevron.
The disbursements are also part of a nine-year $60 million commitment from Chevron to the Global Fund, in the same way as the fund follows the US$6.7 million earlier donated by the company to the Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT)project in Bayelsa State.
Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) made the formal presentation on behalf of its parent firm, last Saturday, at the Dover Hotel, Ikeja venue of the2017 Annual Retreat of the Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM-Nigeria), chaired by the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole.
“The ART Programme will help bridge a critical national health gap and continue Chevron’s work in achieving an AIDS-free generation. The program will help reduce new HIV infections and improve the quality of life for people living with HIV and other affected people in the communities of the targeted states.
“Additionally, it will provide Nigerians with universal access to high-quality, patient-centered prevention, diagnosis and treatment services for tuberculosis, HIV and drug-resistant tuberculosis by 2020,” said Esimaje Brikinn, the General Manager, Policy, Government and Public Affairs, Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL).
Continuing, Brikinn said: “These disbursements are part of a nine-year, US$60 million commitment from Chevron to the Global Fund. The Global Fund raises and invests nearly US$4 billion a year to support programs run by local experts to fight the three diseases in countries and communities most in need.
“Chevron has learned through decades of experience that our success is tied to the health and prosperity of the communities where we operate. Chevron’s social investments are developed through a participatory process and through partnerships not only with the communities who are living in proximity to our operations, but also with other stakeholders who share interests in common with our business (including, government, non-governmental organizations [NGOs], non-profits, development agencies, and others.”
According to Brikinn, Chevron has also committed substantial resources over the years in implementing initiatives aimed at combating several diseases in communities close to its operations and beyond.
“The initiatives include River Boat Clinic, building of community health centers, donation of medical supplies and sponsorship of health campaigns.”
Responding, the health minister, who commended Chevron for the donation, urged the company to woo other international oil companies (IOCs) in the country to commit to lifting the sector as part of the corporate social responsibilities, as, according to him, the federal government alone ‘cannot do it alone.’
“We are happy about what Chevron is doing to support government’s efforts in the fight of HIV and other diseases in Nigeria. That is what we have been advocating; that the private sector should show concern about public health issues. Government cannot do it alone, and this support is needed to achieve a healthy society,” Prof. Adewole remarked.
Describing the presentation as ‘worthy’, Adewole noted that the efforts of the company over the years exemplify the private sector support for health intervention programmes in Nigeria.
“We have been clamouring for the private sector to get involved in health development programmes in the country. And today we are proud to announce one of those initiatives. We commend Chevron for this laudable move. We want to appreciate you for this worthy investment in the health sector,” the health minister added.
Adewole further disclosed that the donation will be computed into the national data base of government to facilitate better coordination of resources in the campaign against the diseases.
The one-week CCM-Nigeria’s annual retreat for 2017 attracted participants from member organisations like the National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA) and other Global Fund’s Principal Recipients (PRs), contributing organizations like the USAID’s Global Health Supply Chain Procurement and Supply Management Project (GHSC-PSM), as well as a host of Nigerian NGOs.
The Global Fund is one of the world’s largest international financier of health care programmes fighting HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria.