By OSEHOBO OFURE
The Edo State Agency for the Control of Aids (EDOSACA), says it is working hard on reducing the prevalence of Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immunodeficiency Disease Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) in the state.
The Agency which board of management was recently revamped by the state government says it will work round the clock to improve HIV/AIDS response and provision of better services to People Living With HIV/AIDS.
Flora Oyakhilome, who heads the agency in Benin City said “improved funding and resource mobilisation in the last few years have seen the prevalence rate in the state reduce from 5.3 to 4.1. Though higher than the national rate, of 3.1, efforts are in top-gear to see further reduction.”
She attributed the downward trend to, “support given to Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) for awareness creation in the 18 local government areas in the state, reach out to vulnerable children who lost their parents to HIV/AIDS as well as to other groups working to check the spread of the virus and providing support for people living with the virus.”
“We are also working with the National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA), at the national level, and the Local Agency for the Control of Aids, which operates at the grassroots in the 18 local government councils of Edo State.”
“In all the local government council headquarters in the state, we have HIV/AIDS desk officers. Before now, the World Health Organisation (WHO) adopted a ‘Top to Bottom’ strategy which did not help much. So we have now adopted the ‘Bottom-to-Top’ approach,” she added.
Mrs. Oyakhilome said EDOSACA, “have identified the need to sensitise more persons in remote areas. We provide support for LACA, line ministries such the ministries for Women Affairs and Social Development; Health; Youth and Special Duties, through which we reach out to vulnerable children who lost their parents to HIV/AIDS.
“We also interface with youth participating in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme and work with the Ministry of Education on family life and AIDs education.”
She noted that the agency was also active in counseling and testing thousands of deportees from Libya and other residents in the state, as part of its mandate.
“Those who tested positive were referred to the health centres where they can access the Anti-Retroviral (ARV) drugs as the state government has ensured that the drugs are obtained for free.”