People living with HIV/AIDS need more than seminars, T-shirts- FCT Minister
by Idris Sulaiman
If people living with HIV/AIDS must live a meaningful life, they need more than seminars, conferences, booklets, banners and T-shirts, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Muhammad Bello has said.
He told officials of the FCT Health and Human Services Secretariat, particularly the FCT Action Committee on AIDS (FACA) should de-emphasize seminars and conferences but do things that would really uplift the standard of people living with HIV/AIDS.
In Nigeria, government and non governmental organisations often organise seminars, workshops and rallies focusing on the challenges and danger of HIV/AIDS.
A lot of budget goes into such workshops and seminars as souvenirs such as T-shirts and others are usually produced to create awareness. But Bello said the needs of people living with the deadly disease go beyond mere jamboree.
According to the Minister who spoke on Thursday while receiving members of the Forum of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, FCT Chapter that paid him a visit in his office, the officials should be practical in their approach in dealing with such persons by fostering things that would have direct bearing on their lives.
He stated that the relevant agencies should try to encourage an enabling environment to do things in such a way that they spend less on conferences, booklets, banners and T-shirts.
“Now is not the time for us to be spending money on ceremonies. But we will strengthen our institutions to be able to provide services and support to enable you have direct positive impact on your lives”. He said
He said that the Health Secretariat and FACA should step up for them proactive counseling in FCT Hospitals; adding, “I think it is something that you should try to encourage as much as possible, and then if there is any window of opportunity to be able to take them on as full time employees, please explore that”.
“I know it is difficult; employment is a challenge but you always have one or two vacancies and you should keep on doing it continuously. At all locations, we should have these people that provide counseling. For everything in life, information is key. If you get the right information, half of your problem is solved,” the Minister stressed.
Bello also directed the FCT Social Development Secretariat to, as a matter of policy encourage people living with HIV/AIDS to participate in the empowerment programmes being undertaken by the FCT Administration to enable them enjoy full benefits.
The Minister further directed the Health and Human Services Secretariat to pay for the three year rent arrears the organization, People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria is owing to take the burden off them and improve the level of their networking.
Speaking earlier, Coordinator of the People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, Comrade Peter Ogbonaya Ikiti, said that the first case of HIV/AIDS was reported in Nigeria in 1986 noting that Nigeria is second to South Africa in term of HIV/AIDS prevalence.