The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) has called on the three tiers of government to participate more and take ownership of HIV/AIDS response.
The Director-General of NACA, Dr Gambo Aliyu, made the call at a four-day HIV Media Advocacy and Social Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC) Skills Building Workshop, in Yenagoa.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that medical experts in HIV/AIDS management and journalists participated at the workshop.
The workshop focused on HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and HIV Self Testing (HIVST).
Aliyu, who was represented by NACA’s Director of Policy Planning and Stakeholders Coordination, Dr Eno Essien, said that People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHIV) were solely supported by donor-agencies.
He said that increased participation by governments was desirable to ensure that services rendered by implementing partners would be sustained when the donor-partners would pull out.
Aliyu urged states in the South-South Geopolitical Zone to take advantage of supports by implementing partners to manage infected people.
Aliyu said that PLWHIV needed support and care, adding that the federal and state governments should critically look into their plight and sustain them.
He said that in Bayelsaa and some others states in the zone, the law establishing the State Agency for Control of Aids (SACA) required amendment to allow for proper operations.
The Wife of Bayelsa Governor, Dr Gloria Diri, declared open the workshop on behalf of her husband, Gov. Douye Diri.
She said that there was the need for aggressive HIV advocacy by the mass media, to reduce HIV/AIDS prevalence.
She commended NACA for bringing the workshop to Bayelsa and gave the assurance that the state would continue to provide a conducive environment for manpower development.
Mrs Diri said that the state government would ensure completion of a permanent office for the Bayelsa State Agency for the Control AIDS (BYSACA) to provide a conducive environment for rendering services to HIV patients.
The South-South Coordinator of NACA, Dr Uduak Daniel, said that the six states in the geo-political zone had high HIV prevalence.
The development, she said, necessitated collaboration with the media through setting up of advocacy platforms as a strategy in the fight against the disease.
Daniel said that on assumption of office, she embarked on assessment of offices of SACA and discovered challenges.
She listed the challenges to include poor funding.
The coordinator said that the need to build journalists’ capacities to effectively be involved in the advocacy informed organisation of the workshop.
Daniel said that in appreciation of the contributions of stakeholders in the HIV/AIDS campaign, the zonal office of NACA would hold an award ceremony to recognize their efforts.
Mr Emmanuel Atuma of the John Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics said that the workshop was essential.
He said that the mass media were veritable tools in the fight against HIV/AIDS scourge.
Atuma said that strengthening journalists’ capacities would go a long way to reduce HIV burden in Nigeria.