By Ovasa Ogaga & Nosa Obaze,
AS the World marks World AIDS Day today Delta State Governor and his Edo State counterpart, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa and Mr Godwin Obaseki have called for increased advocacy on the HIV/AIDS pandemic to eradicate stigmatisation and discrimination in the country.
The governors who spoke separately, urges government agencies, cooperate orgainsations, individuals to sustain the gains so far recorded in the fight against HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Governor Okowa during a Live Radio and Television broadcast to mark the day said that Delta State has about 78,359 persons living with the virus with a prevalence rate of 0,7% stressing that there was the need for an increased advocacy to reduce discrimination and stigmatization among the populace.
“According to the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Nigeria has over three million persons living with HIV. Furthermore, the HIV prevalence rate in Nigeria stands at 3.4%, here in Delta state, with an estimated population of over five million people, we have about 78,359 persons living with HIV. Of this number, 38,257 are eligible for treatment, while 28,000 are currently accessing the life-saving Anti-Retroviral Drugs (ARV), which is 73% coverage in treatment.”, he said, stating that “Delta State HIV prevalence rate currently stands at 3.6% (among Ante-natal surveys), while the survey among the general population is 0.7%”.
“I enjoin all stakeholders to re-double their efforts at educating our people on the HIV/AIDS pandemic, as well as to take proactive steps at eradicating stigma and discrimination among the citizenry. It is a known fact that many people are generally aware of HIV/AIDS, but correct knowledge on how to prevent the infection is rather limited, due mainly to unfounded myths and outright denial of the reality of HIV/AIDS.”, Governor Okowa stated
Describing as very apt the theme for the 2017 World AIDS Day, ‘’Right to Health: Making it Happen.’, Senator Okowa appealed to all Deltans to endeavour to know their HIV status and also register “with the Delta State Contributory Health Scheme as a sure way of ensuring rights to quality health.
On his part Governor Obaseki called on youths, governments, healthcare workers and researchers not to relent on the campaign to rid the world of HIV/AIDS.
Obaseki made the call on the occasion of the commemoration of the World Aids Day, December 1, every year, set aside by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to create awareness on the dangers posed by HIV/AIDS.
He said it was encouraging that the consensus to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS has yielded appreciable success over the years, and urged all not to relent but push to end the spread.
Pledging his administration’s readiness to reduce the prevalence of the disease in Edo State on Thursday, from the about 4.1 prevalence rate to below the national average of 3.1, Obaseki tasked the Governing Board of the Edo State Agency for the Control of AIDS (SACA), during its inauguration at the Government House in Benin, to spread the awareness to every home.
“The inauguration of the Governing Board for SACA would aid the state government achieves her goal to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDs as well as provide support to persons living with the disease, including those vulnerable and affected by the epidemic.”
Obaseki charged the newly inaugurated board to develop strategy aimed at facilitating collaborations between local and international donors and agencies towards tackling AIDS pandemic, periodic review of state strategic plan on prevention and control of AIDS as well as financial and operative procedures.
The governor added that his administration will replicate the success recorded with malaria and polio campaign, in carrying out campaign against the spread of HIV/AIDs.