Public Health Minister, Andre Mama Fouda, has hailed the regressing HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in Cameroon that dropped from 5.5 per cent in 2004 to 4.3 per cent in 2011. He was presiding over the ceremony to mark the 25th World AIDS Day in Yaounde on Saturday, December 1, 2012, under the patronage of First Lady Mrs Chantal Biya. Furthermore, the number of women dying from AIDS has fallen by 20 per cent since 2007 while the number of children born with HIV has dropped drastically.
As President of the National AIDS Fight Committee and the First Lady's personal representative at the ceremony, Andre Mama Fouda reiterated government's resolve to continue sensitisation, medical care to patients and universal access to treatment based on anti-retroviral drugs. "We are providing anti-retroviral drugs to 120,000 patients today and intend increasing the coverage to 150,000 by the end of 2013," he announced.
He lauded the role played by the First Lady, Mrs Chantal Biya through her numerous humanitarian institutions and initiatives to fight the pandemic. He urged youths within the 15-24 year age bracket to know their HIV status to ensure an AIDS-free generation.
Health personnel were cautioned to stop promoting stigmatisation by unprofessionally divulging the status of patients to their entourage. Mama Fouda thanked development partners for supporting government in the fight but urged them to maintain financial support, adding that FCFA 15 billion would be needed by end of 2012 to support free access to treatment.
On his part, the Executive Coordinator of African Synergy Against AIDS and Suffering, Jean Stephane Biatcha, said since creation of the association in November 2002 by Mrs Chantal Biya, African Synergy has mobilised some First Ladies in Africa to promote HIV-AIDS prevention advocacy and care.
The Coordinator of the UN-System in Cameroon, Amadou Moctar Mbaye recalled that only 1,000 days were left to attain global objectives in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic to attain 2015 objective of "Zero Discrimination, Zero New Infections and Zero AIDS-related Deaths". He urged all to intensify the fight and reduce stigmatisation.
Besides musical performances that brought over 2,000 students from various colleges in Yaounde to their feet, highlights included exhibition stands by various stakeholders as well as screening campaigns by the Circle of Friends of Cameroon (CERAC) and African Synergy, National Committee for the Fight Against AIDS (CNLS), among others. The ceremony closed weeklong activities launched in the economic capital city of Douala, Littoral Region on November 26, 2012.