Nasarawa (Nasarawa)- The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) in collaboration with Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) says 5 million Nigerians would benefit from a free medical outreach in seven states.
Dr Yewande Olaifa, the Project Secretary, NACA/SURE-P HIV/AIDS Programme, said this in Nasarawa, Nasarawa state, on Monday at the launch of the National HIV Testing and Counselling Campaign in Nasarawa local government area.
She said that the programme is ongoing in Nasarawa, Edo, Ebonyi, Sokoto, Yobe, Adamawa and Borno states.
“Insecurity-prone states in the North-eastern Nigeria, the programme will target the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps,’’ she said.
She added that stakeholders in Nasarawa state said they had been doing a lot of free medical outreaches in parts of the state in the past, but that Nasarawa had yet to benefit.
Olaifa, who did not disclose the prevalence rate of HIV in Nasarawa local government, said the choice of the area was not about the high prevalence rate of the disease.
She said in any state with high prevalence rate the programme would try to cover many local governments to ensure that people knew their HIV status and access treatment where necessary.
According to her, the service cover essential medical services, blood pressure, blood sugar, height and weight are also checked to determine the body mass index.
“Any other complaints are being attended to by doctors where prescriptions are made; drugs are also provided free.
“For those who tested positive to HIV, they would be linked to facilities that provide Anti-Retroviral Drugs,’’ she said.
Olaifa said that the programme was aimed at making people to understand that HIV/AIDS is like hypertension or diabetes.
“These are non-communicable diseases and they are chronic and when anybody has it he will manage it for life.
“All these diseases one needs to be taking drugs to manage it for life, we merge it with all other diseases to reduce stigma attached to HIV,’’ she said.
Alhaji Aliyu Ahmed, the Chairman, Nasarawa Local Government Council, appreciated the contribution of NACA and the Federal Government towards ensuring a healthy environment.
“Many people are not too healthy; when an opportunity comes to their door steps to access free consultation, testing and drugs people would not hesitate to grab the opportunity,’’ he said.
On the low turnout of males during the inauguration ceremony, Ahmed attributed it to stigmatisation, adding that probably information was yet to reach the grass roots.
The chairman called on the stakeholders to campaign in local languages so that the message could get to the grass roots.
He said this would assist in appraising the communities on what HIV/AIDS entails.
He said the area does not have water-borne diseases as the state government expended N1 billion on Nasarawa water works.
“It has drastically reduced the burden of diseases associated with contaminated water,’’ he said. (NAN)