By Steve Oko
The United States Government in collaboration with Caritas Nigeria, has moved to reduce the spread of the dreaded Human Immuno Virus (HIV), and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in South East Nigeria.
This is as it has been revealed that Abia has the highest number of HIV/AIDS cases in the zone.
Speaking during the official launch of the Accelerated Control of HIV, Epidemic and Sustainable Solution Project in Umuahia, the Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of Claritas Nigeria, Rev. Fr. Uchechukwu Obodoechina, said the NGO had received grant from the US Government to combat the pandemic in South East.
The Access Project according to him, is targeted at reaching all the people infected with HIV with a view to giving them free diagnosis and treatment.
He said that American Centre for Disease Control and Prevention to undertake the projects for five years in the states under review.
The cleric urged states in the South East to complement the efforts of the US Government and the NGO to bring HIV/AIDS epidemic under control.
His words:”We have a grant from the American government and its people to obtain services in Abia State and other parts of the South East Nigeria with a view to achieving epidemic control against HIV/AIDS.
“The Government of Nigeria and Abia State should also rise up because it’s her responsibility to ensure that her citizens are healthy.
“That’s the essence of government. Government is established to do for the people what they can’t do for themselves. That is the content of the social contract.
“It’s important to realize that when the Government does her work, it has perform her duty. It’s not a charity but responsibility”.
In a remark, the Abia State Project Director of the programme,
Dr Amana Effiong, said the project was particularly targeted at people living with HIV/AIDS in some parts of the state who were not reached during the previous exercise of the organization known as 4GATES project.
Effiong expressed concern that whereas some states in South East had brought HIV disease under control, Abia State had yet to achieve such a feat.
He challenged the state Government to rise to the occasion considering the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS.
“Abia is still one of the states with the highest number of people living with HIV without access to treatment,” he regretted, adding that “we have a mandate to find as many people as possible and place them on anti-retroviral treatment.”
He said that the organization had developed different strategies to reach the target population of HIV/AIDS patients and place them under treatment to live their normal life.
“Currently many of the states in Nigeria has achieved epidemic control and treatment but this is not the case in Abia State.
“Caritas Nigeria has received a mandate to ensure that we achieve treatment saturation in the state. “
In a remark, the Chief, Access Project,Dr John Oko, identified stigma against people living with HIV/ ADIS as the only challenge faced by the organization in its previous projects in the state.
He said that the five-year project in collaboration with other partners was a comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment project.
Speaking at the event, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Deaconess Frankca Ekwueme, urged those living with the HIV disease to always make themselves available for treatment.
She said that the disease” is not a death sentence”, arguing that with proper treatment an HIV/AIDS patients could live their normal lives.
Mrs Ekwueme frowned at stigmatization of those living with HIV,/AIDS to avoid worsening their situation.
Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of Vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.