From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Permanent Secretary State House, Tijjani Umar has called on Nigerians at all levels to contribute their quota in the national drive towards ending the HIV/AIDS scourge.
In a statement by Director (Information), State House, Abiodun Oladunjoye, the Permanent Secretary spoke at a one-day Sensitisation workshop organized by the State House Medical Centre to mark the 2022 World AIDS Day, the Permanent Secretary stated that this year’s theme: Equalize to End AIDS; Equal Access to Treatment and Prevention Services underscores the “need for government, leaders at all levels, healthcare managers, care givers and individuals to identify with and tackle the inequalities slowing down the pace of ending the disease in Nigeria.”
“The theme underscores targeting and increasing access to essential HIV services across key population such as children, prisoners, injection drug – users and others. This will increase their quality of life, increase their morale and give them a sense of belonging and also reduce and prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS.
“I wish to call on all Nigerians to support this noble cause by contributing their quota towards increasing HIV awareness and prevention and supporting all those infected and affected. Let us engender equity and equality in HIV care and services in our nation to enable HIV – free individuals, families, societies, communities and the country and to end the pandemic, the achievement of Health for All and overall, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” the Permanent Secretary who was represented by the Director, Planning, Research and Statistics in the State House, Olakunle Fasina added.
In her opening remarks, the Consultant Physician/Nephrologist and the AntiRetroviral Therapy in the Medial Centre, Dr Victoria Ogala-Akogwu, stated that World AIDS Day was celebrated globally as a day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who have died of the disease.
According to her “the response and progress towards achieving HIV goals have slowed down, not only in Nigeria, but globally. And that is why the World AIDS Day 2022 with the theme, Equalize to End AIDS, was made with the call for all of us to unite to equalize against AIDS.”
Ogala noted that there seemed to be a global decline in jingles and discussions on HIV/AIDS, stressing that stigmatization was also gradually creeping back into HIV services. She therefore called on the citizens to join hands with government and the international community in ensuring that the fight against HIV/AIDS was sustained by not discriminating against people with HIV and ensuring equal access to HIV services among diverse segments of the society.
The Medical Director, State House Medical Centre, Dr Hussein Yakassai, appreciated the State House Management for providing the enabling environment for the Centre to provide essential services towards the fight against HIV/ AIDS, stressing that the clinic has been commended by National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) as one of the centres providing quality services in the fight against the disease.
Speaking earlier, Director General, NACA, represented by Dr Josephine Kalu, stated that one of the key developments in this year’s commemoration of World AIDS Day was the signing of a National Domestic Resource Mobilization and Sustainability Strategy Agreement.
He said that the Agreement, which was launched in June 2021, at the first instance was for Taraba and Abia States.
In a lecture on Nigeria’s effort in the fight against HIV/ AIDS, Dr Ebuta Agbor of the State House Clinic stated that Nigeria was committed to the elimination of HIV/AIDS noting that as at 2018, of the 1.9m people living with HIV, 55% of the adult and 35% of children population respectively, were on anti retroviral treatment.
Agbor also remarked that there had been a steady decline in HIV infections in Nigeria as well as deaths from the pandemic.
The First Lady, Dr Aisha Buhari was given an award by Sustenance Home Group for her support and interventions in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
There were goodwill messages from Future Assured Project, People Living with HIV In Nigeria and other HIV Support Groups.