From: Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
As Nigerians joined the rest of the world to commemorate the 2017 World AIDS Day, on Saturday, the Benue State Government has said that the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic should not be left with government alone.
Speaking at the IBB Square venue of the event in Makurdi, Governor Samuel Ortom urged individuals, families and corporate organisations to join hands and efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Benue State for an aids-free society and generation.
Represented by his deputy, Engr. Benson Abounu, the governor noted that that from the time HIV/AIDS became an epidemic in Benue in the late 1990s, remarkable achievements had been recorded against the set targets of behavior change and prevention of new infections.
This, he explained, was in addition to increased demand FIRHIV counselling and testing as a result of state’s Agency for the Control of AIDS (SACA)’s intensified sensitization and demand creation activities both at Urban and rural levels.
“From 2010 to 2017, the number if service delivery points for HIV/AIDS management has remarkably increased for HIV testing services, prevention if mother to child transmission and treatment centers. Similarly, HIV/AIDS related stigman and discrimination have been greatly reduced.”
Harping on this year’s global team for the commemoration of the World AIDS Day, “Right to Health” which had been modified for national relevance in Nigeria as, “Right to Health – Making it Happen”, Ortom maintained that everyone has the right to realize the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination or stigma.
“Healthcare should be accessible, acceptable, available and if good quality for everyone leaving no one behind. Health is no longer a charity or privilege for few but is demanded as a right for all.”
In a chat with newsmen, acting Country Programme Manager of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), Greg Abiaziem who disclosed that about one million deaths with two million new infections of HIV/AIDS were recorded in the year 2016 said of this number, Benue recorded about 300,000 new cases in 2016 with 15.4 prevalence rate at the moment.
He said it was for this reason that AHF had been working assiduously at the grassroots in collaboration with the Benue State government in ten Local government areas of the state with s view to bringing down the prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS in the state.
Highlights of the event was the launch of two documents: Benue State Strategic Plan for HIV and AIDS, 2017 – 2021and Fastracking HIV Treatment and PMTCT programmes in Nigeria, – An Emergency Plan if Action Towards Achieving the 90-90-90 Target by 2020.