FOROYAA Newspaper (Serrekunda)

4 December 2012

Gambia National Aids Secretariat Celebrates World Aids Day

Activities marking the world AIDS day recognized every year on December 1st was celebrated with a colourful match pass by students led by the scouts band, to the KMC grounds. This programme is witnessed by a large crowd amongst which school children formed the core.

The Deputy Mayor Yusupha Sanyang representing Mayor Yankuba Colley in his welcoming address thanks all present, for leaving everything behind and spending their precious time to celebrate what he calls this important day with the world. the theme for this years World Aids Day is "Getting to Zero"; Zero new Hid infections -Zero Discrimination. Zero AIDS related deaths. Deputy Mayor Yusupha Sanyang said his municipality will do everything it can to help bring the theme into reality through their sensitization programmes in schools and Market places. He urged all hands to be on deck to bring HIV to an end.

The Director of National Aids Secretariat, Mr. Ousman Badjie said on October 27, 1988, the UN General Assembly officially recognized the W.H.O declaration on December Ist to be celebrated worldwide. He said since then the UNWAD has been observed the world over in this date of each year.

As can be seen from this gathering, World Aids Day is an opportunity for public and private partners to spread awareness about the status of the pandemic and encourage progress on HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment and care. He made known that between 2011-2015 World AIDS Day will have the theme of getting to zero new HIV infection. Zero discrimination and zero AIDS related deaths. He further said that The World AIDS campaign focuses on getting to zero signifies a push to access treatment for all and a call for governments and all stakeholders to act now. He urge all never to forget that the day is a focal point for the world & AIDS is actually all year round. However, he implored those present to spread and sensitize people rather than stigmatize.

The President of GAM-NAS Madam Fatim GAI - also thanked all who have contributed in one way or the other in making this day a success. She thanked on behalf of Gambia network of Aids support societies (GAM NASS) and all people living with HIV, and support Groups around the country to express their sincere gratitude to all present to commemorate the world Aids day.

World Aids Day 1st December 2012 brings together people from around the world to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS and demonstrate international solidarity in the face of the pandemic and encourage progress in HIV/AIDS prevention, Treatment, care and support. World leaders made new promise -bold, tangible and realistic. Promises have been made to put 15 million people living with HIV an antiretroviral treatment the also a global plan of action to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The new global strategy -zero Deaths, zero new HIV infections, zero discriminations are all important promises. She said that the presence of those present is a demonstration of their commitment and expression of their solidarity as we advocate for partnership, love, compassion and solidarity in fighting against the drivers of vulnerability to HIV infection. He further reiterated that stigma and discrimination hinders access to services and it is a violation of our human rights. In conclusion, the President of GAM-NAS Madam Fatim GAI said that " we are part of the solution. We are not the problem. HIV is the problem and will continue to participate to ensure that getting to Zero" becomes a reality". She concluded by thanking their partners who supported them in one way or the other.

Momodou Gassama, representing the W.H.O Regional Director for Africa, Dr Luis G. Sambo said, "In sub - Saharan Africa, 22 million people are living with HIV/AIDS and over half of them are women. Over 75% of women and 85% of children are living with HIV worldwide. In Africa, he said, HIV/AIDS has claimed the lives of many people and largely contributed to a reduction of life expectancy with gruesome social and Economic consequences.

Gassama said over the year, some progress has been made in the fight against the pandemic in our region; that significant financial investments have been made in the HIV/AIDS response; that affordable drugs and commodities have been made more accessible to all countries, innovative service delivery approaches have been expanded, activation has enhanced the visibility of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and communities have been at the forefront of the response. These efforts have contributed to a reduction in the number of new infections in 22 countries in the W.H.O African region, he informs. He called upon heath care workers at all levels to use every opportunity to counsel people and encourage them to be tested. He further called on countries to come together and mobilize sustainable domestic resources in addition to international funding, harmonize polices and regulate medicines across countries in the sub region. He called for all to work together towards Africa without Aids -related -deaths as it is our individual and collective responsibility.

Mr. Billy Dibba, giving the keynote address on behalf of the minister of health said, from the beginning of the crusade against the AIDs pandemic, there have been a number of initiatives such as universal access, getting to Zero and prevention of mother to child transmissions at both national and international fronts. Such initiatives he said have greatly helped reverse the HIV prevalence trends, particularly in countries that are hardest hit by diseases.

Getting to zero new HIV infection, the zero HIV related discrimination and zero related deaths is indeed a ground breaking vision that requires all hands on deck. This, he said, is due to the fact that there are eminent challenges around this vision and these include issues revolves around stigma and discrimination.

In conclusion, he said it is paramount for us all to remember that positive behavioural practices are quite critical in halting and reversing HIV in the country. He therefore urged everyone to show solidarity and compassion to those already infected or affected.

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