1. His Excellency, the Deputy Governor of Nasarawa State;
2. The Right Hon. Speaker, Nasarawa State House of Assembly;
3. The Hon. Chief Judge of Nasarawa State;
4. Principal Officers and Members of the State House of Assembly;
5. Members of the State Executive and Security Councils;
6. The Secretary to the Government of Nasarawa State;
7. The Head of the Civil Service;
8. Special Advisers;
9. The State Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC);
10. Permanent Secretaries;
11. His Royal Highness, Hon. Justice Sidi Bage Muhammad I JSC (Rtd) Emir of Lafia and Chairman, Nasarawa State Council of Chiefs;
12. Chairmen and Chief Executives of Commissions, Boards and Parastatals;
13. Executive Chairmen of Local Government Councils and Overseers of Development Areas present;
14. Your Royal Highnesses, Emirs and Chiefs present;
15. Our Development Partners;
16. Gentlemen of the Press;
17. Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is with a sense of fulfillment that I address you today on the twin occasion of the 5-Year Hepatitis ‘C’ Elimination Plan and the Inauguration of the Technical Working Group (TWG).
2. Let me specially welcome our development partners and other stakeholders in the health sector to Nasarawa State for this historic event.
3. I commend our development partners for this laudable collaboration, aimed at eliminating Hepatitis ‘C’ within the next Five (5) years, in line with the World Health Organization (WHO) Elimination Goal of 2023. This is aimed at facilitating the screening of over 2.4 Million persons and providing treatment for over 124,000 persons.
4. You would recall that within the First 100 days of this Administration, we embarked on a State wide medical outreach for the treatment of Glaucoma and Cataract surgery among other illnesses in the State, where over Five Thousand (5,000) indigent persons benefitted from the gesture. We have also embarked on several other Interventions in the healthcare sector to improve the quality of healthcare services in our Primary, Secondary and Tertiary health institutions which include infrastructural upgrade, provision of various equipment, drugs and improvement in the health manpower, among others.
5. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, there is no gainsaying the fact that, Health is Wealth. Without good health, no life will exist. It is for this reason that this Administration is committed to saving lives and helping the citizens of Nasarawa State to live a healthy life. Accordingly, we remain committed to the building on the gains of the previous Administration by working closely with other development partners, such as the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) in order to domesticate the National Treatment Guidelines and integrate innovative diagnostic technologies for Hepatitis ‘C’ Virus (HCV). This is an intervention which has enjoyed global recognition and the first of its kind in Sub-Saharan African.
6. In addition, the availability of a 12-week curative treatment regimen for Hepatitis ‘C’ Virus has enabled infected persons’ access services across all levels of treatment cascade-screening, HCV diagnostic testing, and treatment. This intervention has been expanded to over 10 facilities in the State and no fewer than 85,000 persons have been screened, out of which 1,300 infected individuals were treated through these preliminary efforts. However, this is, but a drop in the ocean when compared with the estimated State’s burden.
7. I wish to state that the progress made in Nasarawa State in the elimination of Hepatitis is far from the desired goal of protecting every citizen from the risks of the infection. This is a call to action for all and sundry to join hands in order to eliminate Hepatitis in the State.
8. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is pertinent to continue to leverage on existing efforts in order to create the desired momentum to accelerate treatment uptake for the estimated 124,000 affected people in the state. This is in line with our Administration’s human capital development goal which forms part of the Nasarawa Economic Development Strategy (NEDS).
9. In furtherance to these efforts, we are commencing an ambitious Viral Hepatitis ‘C’ Elimination Plan in the State. To actualize this Plan, we set-up a Viral Hepatitis Technical Working Group (TWG) to be chaired by the Honourable Commissioner for Health. The Working Group will be inaugurated today. As a demonstration of our commitment to fight this viral disease, this Administration is committing the sum of Forty Million (N40,000,000.00) Naira as seed fund to combat the disease.
10. This intervention has become imperative, considering the fact that the Viral Hepatitis amongst other communicable diseases contributes significantly to the high mortality rates with an estimated 1.3 Million deaths per year globally. It is important to note that the Hepatitis ‘B’ (H’B’) and Hepatitis ‘C’ (H’C’) Viruses are the primary drivers of cirrhosis and liver cancer, accounting for 9% of total deaths from all cancers each year. Records revealed that in Nigeria, no fewer than 18 million people are living with Viral Hepatitis with prevalence rates of 8.9% for Hepatitis ‘B’ Virus and 1.1% for Hepatitis ‘C’ Virus.
11. Similarly, a study conducted in Nasarawa State, showed a sero-prevalence rate of 13.2% for Hepatitis ‘C’ Virus, a figure significantly higher than the country’s average. This calls for great concern and immediate attention.
12. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the Technical Working Group is charged with the responsibility of working out the modalities to ensure that a minimum of 10,000 persons are placed on treatment and cure within the 1st year. I am pleased to inform you that His Excellency, the Deputy Governor, Dr. Emmanual Akabe, who is also a Medical Doctor will champion this project to demonstrate the seriousness and commitment of this Administration.
13. As I inaugurate the Technical Working Group today, I urge you to live above board in the fight against this disease. I also implore our esteemed development partners and other stakeholders in the health sector, both Local and International to work in synergy with the Technical Team in our determination to reduce the menace of Hepatitis ‘C’ viral infection in Nasarawa State.
14. It is my hope and, indeed, expectation that this singular gesture will open up new vistas of stronger networks, partnership, collaboration and support as we match towards a Hepatitis ‘C’ – free generation.
15. On this note, it is my pleasure to declare open the 5-Year Hepatitis ‘C’ Elimination Plan and Inaugurate the Technical Working Group, for the benefit of our people.
16. Thank you and may God bless us all.