By Tobias Lengnan Dapam
Chairman, House committee on AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Control in the House of Representatives, Amobi Godwin Ogah, has expressed determination of member of the house to end AIDS and tuberculosis epidemic by 2030.
Ogah, stated this on Friday in Abuja while flagging off the walk on World AIDS Day, organized by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF).
“On behalf of my colleagues, let me assure Nigerians, especially the community of people living with HIV/AIDS that we are fully with them and will join them to fight the harmful stigma and discrimination that hinder people living with HIV from fully realizing their potentials.
“We will do everything within our powers to revisit the HIV/AIDS Anti-Discrimination Act 2014 that makes it illegal to discriminate against people based on their HIV status, which prohibits any employer, individual or organization from requiring a person to take an HIV test as a precondition for employment or access to services becomes fully operational. This is the least we can do for this community, and we are fully committed to seeing this through.”
While acknowledging the significant progress made over the past decades, he said the house is not oblivious of the challenges facing the global HIV/AIDS response, including insufficient funding, dangerously high rates of 1.3 million new HIV transmissions annually, and an estimated 630,000 deaths still occurring each year, and in support of the global call for community leadership, “we are determined to ensure that as a country, we also respond with a more robust local resources allocation to the HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria-interventions in Nigeria.
“To honor all who have lost their lives to AIDS-related illnesses, to support those who carry on the fight, and uniting people globally in battling HIV/AIDS, I will flag off this walk and urge all of us to play our part, as a community that we are.
“I acknowledge that TB is one of the leading causes of death amongst people living with HIV. Therefore, to End TB, is to End AIDS and we remain committed to the vision to fight and End the three diseases (AIDS,TB and malaria).
“I urge all stakeholders, partners and communities to lead by feeling free to approach parliament. As parliamentarians, we are representatives of the people and we committed to amplifying the voices of the people.”
On his part, Dr. Echey Ijezie, AHF Nigeria Country Program Director (CPD), called for more funding and support of people living with HIV.
He said the day is a wake up call for stakeholders to increase support in that area.
“We are actively and happily playing a supporting role to support the effort of the Nigeria government through NACA and the Federal Ministry of Health to end AIDS by 2030. This can be seen in our deliberate interventions across our state where we are prioritizing projects that advances gender equality and that builds the leadership potentials at grassroots level so that in the real sense, we are empowering communities to lead.”