From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
At least, 600 locals are expected to benefit from the two-day free medical outreach organized by the National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA) in collaboration with the member representing Buruku Federal Constituency at the National Assembly, Hon. Kpam Jimin Sokpo.
The event which commenced on Monday at the headquarters of Buruku Local Government Area is expected to attend to no fewer than 300 persons on the first day from Tombo axis and another 300 on Tuesday from Mbayan axis.
HIV/AIDS has continued to be a disease of global interest with the global target to end AIDS by 2030. Nigeria has achieved significant strides in the fight against the disease.
The national prevalence which was previously 3.4 percent by the National HIV and AIDS and Reproductive Health Survey 2012 (NARHS Plus II), is now reportedly 1.5 percent among adult HIV with a projected estimate of 1.9million people living with HIV.
This is according to the National HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS 2018), a national household-based survey that assessed the prevalence of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other related health indicators in 2018.
Although the country has made significant progress towards achieving the 95-95-95 UNAIDS target as she currently reports 90-96-84, there is need for concerted efforts to creatively develop and implement interventions to accelerate towards the finish line by ensuring reduction in incidence of HIV infection especially among young persons, women, girls, key and vulnerable populations.
It was for this reason that NACA is collaborating with the federal lawmaker in the area of HIV testing and counselling to ensure the reduction of the virus to the barest minimum across 13 council wards in Buruku Local Government area.
This is in line with NACA’s mandate in facilitating and coordinating comprehensive community care services including interventions to reduce individual’s vulnerabilities to contacting HIV are pointers to the need to strengthen interventions to close the gaps in order to fast track the attainment of the 95-95-95 targets in Nigeria.
Sokpo who was speaking through his legislative aide, Valentine Vembe while flagging off the medical outreach on Monday said the event was primarily to carry out HIV testing and counselling as well as diagnose and treat other opportunistic infections that come along with HIV.
“NACA medical team is already on ground to monitor how well the HIV cases have been managed to know whether the virus is reducing or increasing in the area. That’s why NACA is here. Will be testing the people for HIV and those who are already on drugs we will see how well they are taking their drugs while those who are not on drugs would be tested and placed on drugs.”
Some of the beneficiaries who spoke to newsmen including Joseph Abeda, Mama Alu Fifa and Pa Abaa Mtoo expressed joy that the organizers have deemed it fit to attend to their health needs even as they expressed the assurance that the medical outreach would help many of the locals who hitherto had been ill but could not access medical treatment for financial reasons.