By Sailu Bah A five day training of community treatment activists on HIV/AIDS commenced yesterday, 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.]]>
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