With the Aids pandemic being a genuine global emergency that is taking the lives of thousands of people each day and threatening tens of millions more, the National HIV/AIDS Secretariat (NAS) yesterday interacted with MPs on HIV issues.
The one day interactive discussion which took place at committee room No1, has its theme as the role of Parliamentarians in the national response to the HIV and Aids.
Despite the threat being accomplished with an increase in flow of resources to low and middle income countries to prevent new infections and treat those already infected in mitigating the impact of AIDS, the Director of NAS assured MPs that government valued their role in the struggle to contain the epidemic.
Dr. Kargbo also said that MPs have certain strength to fight against HIV/AIDS and are placed to convey AIDS message to their constituencies. He also called upon them to break the silence amongst the people and to fight stigma. “As individuals at risk of being infected, you should learn how to protect yourselves and your families from the infection. Let us send a message of hope to our people, let us tell them that just because you are HIV positive today, it does not mean that you will get Aids tomorrow and die” he told the MPs.
The NAS Director further stated that government has developed a national strategic plan for proper guidance in prevention of new infection, treatment, care and support, legal and Human Rights of people living with HIV, decentralized activities, research monitor and evaluate and also key sectoral responses.
He also told the MPs that when a statistics was conducted in 2006, there were 4.1% tested to have the disease and in 2007 and 2008 it was 4.4% and 3.5% respectively.
The parliamentary chairman of HIV and AIDS Committee, Hon Marie Jalloh reminded her colleagues of their unique contribution in standing up against stigma and discrimination.
She assured that as overseers of the national budget, they would ensure that budget allocation favours women and men equally with attention on the vulnerable groups.With that, she noted that a concept note has been developed by the HIV/AIDS committee of a detailed proposed activity plan for MPs. “If empowered, being the lawmakers and representatives of our people, our voices can make a difference in the fight against HIV/AIDS” she added.