By Andrew Ojih, Jalingo.
Following the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Taraba State Government and Swiss multinational, Roche last year, the state government has commenced hepatitis project valued at N1.3 billion to screen, vaccinate and treat hepatitis patients in order to curb the spread of the disease in the state.
Speaking during the kick off ceremony, yesterday in Jalingo, Governor, Darius Ishaku said his administration was serious of ensuring good health for the people of the state.
“This government is serious about ensuring good health for the people of the state and we are taking this bold stand against hepatitis in order to provide free screening and vaccination for our people and to also treat those who are positive to avoid spread of the disease,” he said.
He explained that the project is expected to provide awareness and to educate the people through the screening programmes across the 16 local areas of the state to aid prevention.
“As part of the partnership, Roche Diagnostics has provided advanced testing equipment to improve the quality of diagnosis. Healthcare workers in the state will also undergo extensive training to facilitate proper testing, diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis. With this approach, hepatitis-related cancers and deaths are expected to reduce in the state over time,” he said.
He informed that the project was worth emulating, adding that the health of the people must be a priority for any responsible government.
Also speaking, head, Sub-Sahara Africa for Roche, Mr. Markus Gemuend said the decision to partner with Taraba State Government was to improve healthcare services in the state.
“We are optimistic that at the end, other states in the federation will follow Taraba’s lead. The story of Taraba is a great one and we are open to collaborate with other states of the federation to do our best for their people” he noted.
On his part, the Taraba State commissioner for health, Dr. Innocent Vakkai, said in five years time, over 50,000 people in the state will benefit from the free screening and vaccination and about 2,000 people are expected to be treated.
“Our healthcare workers – doctors, nurses, lab scientists, pharmacists and many others will also be trained extensively and with our state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment, we expect Taraba to become the hub for advanced diagnostics and treatment excellence in the Northeast region,” he noted.