HIV/AIDS Community Treatment Training is underway

By Sailu Bah
A five day training of community treatment activists on HIV/AIDS commenced HIV and AIDS Community Treatmentyesterday, Monday, 23rd February 2015 at the Paradise
Suites hotel in Kololi.
Organised by the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC)West Africa, in close collaboration with Gambia Network of Aids
(Gam-Nas), this training on community treatment observatory is
targeting 50 activists from different communities in all the regions
in the Gambia to enable them to be monitoring, reporting and collecting
data, as well as to analyse and initiate advocacy on the information
gathered from the community. According to the organisers, the
training is sponsored by the German International Cooperation Agency.
In his opening statement, Mr. Omar Sey, the Minster of Health and
Social Welfare, commended the organisers for what he called a laudable
initiative.
Minister Sey assured his ministry’s support, adding that their doors
are open to all initiatives geared towards universal health coverage.
He also applauded the facilitators from Ivory Coast, and urged the
participants to make the best use of the sessions.
Musa Camara, Coordinator GAM-NAS, in his remark, said the training
will help to build the capacities of participants to be able to know
basic human rights, as well as how trade can influence the
availability, management and supply of Anti-Retroviral Drugs (ARVs) as
well as quality and service delivery.
“HIV exists in the Gambia and according to the Gambia Demographic and
health survey 2013; the prevalence of the infection is 1.9%. The socio
economic burden of HIV&Aids on individuals, households, communities
and the state is very high,” Mr. Camara revealed.
He said GAM-Nas needs the support of government as well as other
agencies in other to implement their programs and eradicate the virus.
Ousman Badjie, the Director of the National Aids Secretariat (NAS)
described the project as very important, adding that it is hoped
that the project will be extended if funding is available.
Mr. Badjie said the challenges around HIV are enormous and as such
should ensure the full participation of the community in the fight
against it.
He urged facilitators to lay emphasis on the issue of the treatment of
children with HIV.
Siver Okiki, ITPC West Africa Coordinator, said this kind of project
is only found in few countries and that the Gambia is part of the
beneficiaries.
He said a pressing and critical issue in the response to HIV in West
Africa is the unmet needs for treatment.
“The project cannot be effective if the community is not fully
involved,” he remarked.
Dr. Saihou Sabally, Chairperson of the Project’s board, said the
collaboration is necessary to make the project successful.
For his part, Bakary Tijan Jaguraga, representative of the WHO Country
representative, reaffirmed their support to GAM-NAS. He assured that
they will continue giving their technical inputs, advocate and support
the delivery of quality services on HIV&AIDS.