The Gambia is set to commemorate World AIDS Day on 1 December 2010. This was revealed by the officials of the National AIDS Secretariat (NAS) yesterday at a press briefing held at its head office on Kairaba Avenue.
Speaking during the press briefing, Ousman Njie, the programme administrator of NAS, said that World AIDS Day is commemorated on 1 December with the purpose of creating awareness and advocacy to reflect on what have been done and to know the challenges ahead. Alieu Jammeh, director of NAS, said that this year's celebration will help them a lot to reflect on what have been done. "We know we have done quite a lot but we are still facing lots of challenges in The Gambia even though the country is small," he stated.
Jammeh acknowledged that a lot needs to be done adopt strategies that will tackle taboos, stigma and discrimination. Sally Saidy, communication specialist from Unicef, said her organisation is committed to support the government and partners in accelerating prevention and control of HIV and AIDS in The Gambia.
"As the UN organisation working specifically for the advancement of children and women, Unicef's areas of focus are on Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) and Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) interventions," she stated. According to her, they have sharpened their equity focus over the years and intensified their efforts to ensure that the most vulnerable and marginalised children and women in The Gambia are reached.
"As a result," she added, "under their Child Survival and Development Programme, Unicef works with policy makers to support policies in favour of women and children affected or infected by HIV." Sally dislosed that Unicef is similarly working closely with the Ministry of Health to expand PMTCT interventions so that all pregnant women and children will have access to preventive services while supporting treatment of opportunistic infections such as pneumonia and diarrhea for HIV positive mothers and children.
"In order to ensure the delivery of effective and reliable services, Unicef also supports the training of health care providers nationwide on HIV and AIDS related issues and provides supplies such as the Rapid Test Kits for screening and timely action," she informed.