Thursday, February 25, 2010

HIV/AIDS impacts is unique

As AIDS kills adults in the prime of their lives
NEWS BANJUL, THE GAMBIA(MB)- Alieu Jammeh the director of National Aids Secretariat (NAS) has made it categorically clear that the impact of HIV/AIDS is unique because AIDS kills adults in the prime of their lives, thus depriving families, communities and entire nations of their young and most productive people. According to him this has added to the already heavy diseases burden in poor countries, the epidemic is deepening and spreading poverty, reversing human development, worsening gender inequalities eroding the capacity of government to provide essential services reducing labor productivity and hampering pro-poor growth.
Director Jammeh made these remarks in a two day forum for sensitization of National Aids Services Organization (NASO) on mainstreaming HIV and AIDS into the poverty reduction strategic paper held at paradise conference hall ended on Wednesday 17th February 2010.
According to him it is of crucial importance for the fact that the brunt of the burden is borne by women in their multiple roles as caretakers, breadwinners and subsistence farmers; adding that poverty, gender and HIV/AIDS seem to be closely intertwined. “In the early stage of the pandemic the better educated and better- off are more vulnerable to HIV infection, mainly because of higher resources and greater mobility”, he added. Noting that poverty reduction strategies are becoming the main development planning instruments in many countries, determining national priorities and domestic as well as external resource allocation. He further revealed that mainstreaming HIV related priorities helps create an enabling policy and resource environment for an effective response to the epidemic, thus achieving synergy between diverse interventions across many sectors and ensuring adequate financing for HIV/AIDS. Director Jammeh further elucidated that there is a greater need for capacity building of NASO to effectively undertake oversight role on all HIV and AIDS matters and resource mobilization and coordination from governments.
For his part, Mr. Abdou Touray the director general national planning commission stated that globally UNAIDS report revealed that HIV/AIDS is on the decline and results of 2007 sentinel survey in the Gambia also revealed a dramatic reduction in the prevalence level of about one hundred percent from 2.8 percent to 1.4 for HIV-1in 2006, whilst HIV-2dropped to 0.05 percent in 2007. Adding that prevalence rates have declined in almost all towns as it reduced from 4.8 percent in 2006 to 1.3 in Brikama, Sibanor, Farafenni, Essau and Basse in 2007.
According to him this development is attributed largely to positive behavioral change; noting that despite such gains registered in the national response to HIV-AIDS, there is still an apparent gap between knowledge and behavior change as well as insufficient knowledge of the key drivers of the epidemic. “ This sensitization forum will therefore provide the opportunity to share with policy-makers the experience in mainstreaming and strengthening the process of integrating AIDS into PRSPs to address the root causes and consequences of HIV epidemic its links to poverty”, he disclosed.
Mr. Touray added that in order to mainstream AIDS, national development instruments need to factor in the implication of HIV for overall poverty-reduction and growth, noting that such national strategies and plans should include strategies needed to stem the spread of HIV, to scale up the provision of care, treatment and support and enhance resilience to cope with the impacts of HIV and other shocks at individual, household, and community levels.
He further asserted that it is clear that stronger advocacy, sensitization and institutional linkages are needed, which has a need greater support and capacity building in promoting and ensuring that HIV-AIDS is all mainstreamed in all national development instruments. “Therefore there is great need for NAS and NPC to coordinate mainstreaming efforts and play the role of brokers on this critical relationship between different stakeholders”, said Mr. Touray.

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