World AIDS Day: CR-SACA Plans Health Talks, To Commission Youth Friendly Centre

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  • Spotlights achievements so far

BY UBON EKANEM, CALABAR – The Cross River State Agency for the Control of AIDS (CR-SACA) is set to mark the 2021 World AIDS Day on Wednesday, December 1 with health talks and awareness walk in support of the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The health talks from top government functionaries and implementing partners will signpost this year’s event which flags off with the ribbon cutting at the University of Calabar (Unical) Main Gate, along Etta Agbo Road.

Also featuring as part of activities marking the day are the commissioning of University of Calabar Youth Friendly Centre as well as HIV Counselling and Testing among others.

The Director General of CR-SACA, Dr Etcheri Ansa said in a press statement on Tuesday that with the theme, “End Inequalities, End AIDS Through Sustainable HIV Financing”, the programme is expected to further create and raise awareness on the AIDS epidemic caused by the spread of HIV infection while also providing an avenue to mourn those who have died of the disease.

Dr Ansa, who also updated the public on SACA’s achievements during the year, said with its stirring and focused activities on HIV/AIDS responses, the Agency was given recognition by the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) with an award for outstanding performances.

She further explained that the Agency remains focused on the right path with tremendous successes since the last World AIDS Day and listed some of their milestone achievements to include; “Training of APYIN for Adolescent kit 15 to 18yrs; Adolescent and Young People Training (18 to 25yrs); Reinforced LACA/SACA forums to strengthen the LGA activities; performance management mission for NACA; Health development conference, support to students and other bodies on HIV/AIDS-related issues.”

Similarly, the SACA boss, while acknowledging Governor Ben Ayade’s tremendous support for the Agency, said other CR-SACA initiatives are setting up HIV Counselling and Testing Centres/Hubs across health facilities; Regular and diligent follow up of those living with the virus; Supply of HIV drugs with no charges; as well as Intense data collection and collation among others.

Below is the full media statement by CR-SACA Director General:

Dearly beloved Cross Riverians, as we all know, every 1st of December is set aside to mark World AIDS Day, an International Day dedicated to raising/creating awareness of the AIDS epidemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who have died of the disease. The Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a life-threatening condition caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The HIV virus attacks the Immune system of the patient and reduces its resistance to other diseases.

As a State, we will be joining the whole World to mark this Day. The State Government through the Cross River State Ministry of Health alongside our implementing Partners will be kicking off this year’s AIDS Day from the cutting of the ribbon at Unical Main Gate and with a follow-up of other lofty programmes of activities such as health talks from top government officials and implementing partners, commissioning of the University of Calabar Youth Friendly Centre, HIV Counselling and Testing amongst others under the Theme; END INEQUALITIES, END AIDS THROUGH SUSTAINABLE HIV FINANCING

Let me use this opportunity to thank the administration of His Excellency Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade for his tremendous support to the Agency and for leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that Cross Riverians remain safe and disease-free. A big thank you to Her Excellency Dr Linda Ayade for her wonderful support and motherly role toward the Agency. To the most active and workaholic Health Commissioner, Dr Betta Edu, a friend, and a sister, SACA cannot thank you enough for all you do and still doing. We would not have come this far and achieved this much without having you staking your all for us. We say a very big thank you and God’s blessings as we’ll never stop to appreciate you.

To all our partners, let me use this medium to appreciate you for your immense support to the Agency especially UNICEF, UNFPA, Jhpiego, Heartland Alliance, AHF, CCRN, FHI360, and others. We will continue to work in harmony and synergy for the betterment, growth and well-being of all Cross Riverians especially those living with the virus.

While thanking and appreciating the efforts and support of our sister agencies and the huge positive impact from the State Ministry of Health under the watch of Dr Betta Edu, let me reassure our dear Cross Riverians that we are on the right track as we have recorded tremendous achievements/successes since our last World AIDS Day till date.

Some of those achievements include; Training of APYIN for Adolescent kit 15 to 18yrs, Adolescent and Young People Training (18 to 25yrs), Reinforced LACA/SACA forums to strengthen the LGA activities, performance management mission for NACA, Health development conference, support to students and other bodies on HIV/AIDS-related issues, setting up of HIV counselling and Testing Centres/Hubs across health facilities, regular and diligent follow up of those living with the virus, supply of HIV drugs with no charges, intense data collection and collation amongst others.

The State, due to her outstanding activities on HIV/AIDS responses, got an award from NACA for outstanding performances. While we look to continue doing more and covering more grounds, let me assure us that the healthy living of all Cross Riverians remains our major priority.

I wish to appeal to the government to continue to support the activities of SACA in giving succour to the patients who are vulnerable and predisposed to other health challenges. Also, the Law against HIV/AIDS stigmatization in our State should be activated because HIV patients are losing their jobs on a daily basis amongst other effects that come with the high rate of stigmatization. I wish to also solicit to our partners that they should have a coordinated data collection format so as to avoid double-counting as this tends to affect data collection and collation.

To my fellow Cross Riverians, let me reassure you again that HIV is not a death sentence but rather a virus that if properly taken care of by regular drugs compliance and a proper medical follow up, will gradually become a thing of the past especially as we now have new drugs that can suppress the virus thereby limiting transmission from one person to another.

Also, we have to practice the habit of getting tested at least once every 3 Months; remain faithful to our partners; use condoms, if we cannot practice total abstinence; take drugs religiously to reduce the viral load, and above all, say no to stigmatization on those living with the virus.

I hereby invite the general public to our forthcoming World AIDS Day Celebration come December 1st, 2021 at the University of Calabar Main Gate as the kick-off point.

Thanks and God bless Cross River State.

Dr Etcheri Ansa
Director General
Cross River State Agency for the Control of AIDS (SACA)

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