14 January 2016

Nigeria: NGO Conducts Free HIV/Aids Counselling, Testing for 350 IDPs

Bauchi — As part of activities to commemorate the 2015 World AIDS Day, a Bauchi-based Non-governmental Organisation (NGO), AD Rufai Foundation has conducted free HIV/AIDS counselling and testing for over 350 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) taking refuge at Boto Camp in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of the state.

Addressing the beneficiaries during the recent exercise carried out in collaboration with Bauchi State Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Malaria (BACATMA), the coordinator of the NGO, Hajiya Halima Ibrahim Maigari said the gesture was to encourage the IDPs know their health status and those found positive to be put on drugs.

She said the NGO was also working in the area of women empowerment and skills acquisition programmes for children whose parents died of HIV/AIDS, calling on other NGOs and wealthy individuals in the state to assist the IDPs to give them sense of belonging.

However, THISDAY checks revealed that the IDPs taking refuge at the Boto Camp were not happy with the way their welfare was being handled by the Camp management, even as they decried the non-distribution of some materials provided for them to improve their living condition in the camp.

Speaking with THISDAY, the IDPs claimed that they were denied access to donations like food, textiles and bedding materials being distributed, and therefore called on the state government to look into their plight as well as assist them with financial support to enable them settle fully in the state.

One of the IDPs, Malam Adamu Ibrahim Nauyi lamented that none of the religious organisations have visited the camp to give them words of encouragement in view of their predicament.

Responding, the Camp Manager who is also representative of Red Cross Society of Nigeria, Bauchi state branch, Mustapha Mohammed said they have been trying their best to improve the living conditions of the IDPs.

The IDPs from Kaduna village in Mangu local government area of Plateau state have been at the camp for the past three months. Highlights of the occasion included the distribution of educational materials and blankets to the children of the IDPs to enable them continue with their educational pursuits.

In a related development, Bauchi state government in collaboration with 44 donor agencies are offering various support to people living with HIV/AIDS in the state.

The state governor, Mohammed Abubakar who disclosed this at Bayara, Bauchi local government area of the state, said currently over 11,000 people living with the virus are on anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs across the state.

Represented by his wife, Hajiya Hadiza Mohammed Abubakar said the state government as well as development partners and international donor agencies are working out modalities to end HIV/AIDS by the year 2030.

In a remark, the Executive Secretary, BACATMA, Dr. Abdulazeez Manga said the agency had distributed about 200,000 test kits to health facilities and CSOs for HIV counselling and testing across the state.

Manga said in an effort to ensure prevention of mother to child transmission of the virus the agency is currently providing services in 88 health facilities for safe delivery of pregnant women, adding that the agency has empowered 3,362 HIV positive persons to be self-reliant.

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