As part of efforts to sustain awareness, prevention and reduce the spread of Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS), Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has intensified awareness on the disease and has established seven centers in Benin where residents can check to ascertain their status and get counseling services.
Addressing journalists at the end of a Stakeholders’ Scorecard and Interactive meeting held in Benin City, Executive Director, Edo State Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS (EDOSACA), Mrs. Flora Oyakhilome, said the centers are located in Santana Market, Ramart Park, New Benin, Evbuotubu, Oluku, Ekiosa and Ring Road.
Oyakhilome said the Edo State Government has made the job easier for the agency through the setting up of these testing and counseling centers across Benin metropolis, noting, “This is a remarkable experience for us in the agency as we are testing people and those who come out positive are counseled and linked to care. This is the first time we are embarking on an event like this and the great success of the exercise is attributed to the state government.”
She said the meeting and interactive session with stakeholders, HIV/AIDS response persons, board members of EDOSACA and relevant participants was aimed at evaluating achievements made by the agency from December 2017 till date.
She added that it will enable the agency improve on its areas of strength, work on its weaknesses, and develop strategists on overcoming challenges.
“We have achieved a lot since 2017, as we have been involved in testing returnees from Libya and those who test positive are counseled and linked to care which include referring them to health facilities where they can access drugs as the government has provided free drugs for them,” the SACA boss said.
Executive Director, Ideal Development and Resource Center (IDRC), Saliu Aidonolo said the session was a commendable development, adding that the event showed the effective coordination of EDOSACA and the State government in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Aidonolo said, “I am happy about the success story so far on the testing and counseling points established by Edo State Government, which shows commitment to responding to challenges in the fight against the disease. I hope it can be extended to other parts of the state.”
He urged pregnant women to ensure they get tested to know their status and know how to protect the unborn child.
State Co-ordinator, National Youths Network on Population and HIV/AIDS, Osamwonyi Iserhienrhien, said that the programme provided a good avenue for stakeholders to evaluate the strength and weaknesses in 2018 to enable them plan better for 2019.