AFRICAN heads of state have endorsed two major new initiatives to help end AIDS by 2030. The community health workers initiative aims to recruit, train and deploy 2 million community health workers across Africa by 2020. The western and central Africa catch-up plan aims to rapidly accelerate access to HIV treatment in the region and close the gap in access between African regions. The initiatives were endorsed at the AIDS Watch Africa Heads of State and Government Meeting, held on 3 July during the 29th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Western and central Africa catch-up plan
Under the leadership of countries and regional economic communities, and in collaboration with UNAIDS, the World Health Organization, Doctors Without Borders and other partners, the catch-up plan in western and central Africa, which started implementation in late 2016, seeks to dramatically accelerate the scale-up of HIV testing, prevention and treatment programmes, with the goal of putting the region on the Fast-Track to meet the 90–90–90 targets by December 2020.
While the world witnesses significant progress in responding to HIV, with 57% of all people living with HIV knowing their HIV status, 46% of all people living with HIV accessing treatment and 38% of all people living with HIV virally suppressed in 2015, the western and central Africa region lags behind, achieving only 36%, 28% and 12%, respectively, in 2015. The gap is considerable: 4.7 million people living with HIV are not receiving treatment, and 330 000 adults and children died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2015.
“We cannot accept a two-speed approach to ending AIDS in Africa,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé. “To put western and central Africa on track to end AIDS, we must address stigma, discrimination and other challenges to an effective response, allocate funding to support the most effective strategies and implement delivery strategies that reach the communities most in need.”
The catch-up plan will aim to increase the number of people on treatment from 1.8 million to 2.9 million by mid-2018, giving an additional 1.2 million people, including 120 000 children, access to urgently needed treatment.
The first call for a catch-up plan for the region was made at the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS in June 2016. Since then, at least 10 countries (Benin, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone) have developed country operational plans deriving from the western and central Africa catch-up plan with a focus on ensuring the needed policy and structural changes.
Two million community health workers
To put western and central Africa on track to end AIDS, we must address stigma, discrimination and other challenges to an effective response
The community health worker initiative aims to accelerate progress towards achieving the 90–90–90 targets by 2020—whereby 90% of all people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90% of people who know their HIV-positive status are accessing treatment and 90% of people on treatment have suppressed viral loads—and to lay the foundation for sustainable health systems. Championed by the President of Guinea and African Union Chair, Alpha Condé, the initiative seeks to confront the acute health workforce shortages across Africa and improve access to health services for the most marginalized populations, including people living in rural areas.
“Recruiting 2 million community health workers is a critical step towards achievement of the Africa-wide socioeconomic transformation envisioned in the African Union’s Agenda 63”, said Mr Condé. “Few tools have the ability of community health workers to drive progress across the entire breadth of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
Substantial evidence, from both Africa and elsewhere, demonstrates that well-trained, properly supervised community health workers provide an excellent quality of care and improve the efficiency and impact of health spending. Community health workers have helped devise some of the most effective service delivery strategies for HIV testing and treatment, and studies have also linked community-delivered services with increased rates of immunization, exclusive breastfeeding and malaria control coverage.
“Sustainable community health work is a matter of survival and development in Ethiopia, said Prime Minister of Ethiopia Hailemariam Desalegn. “My community health workers have made better health happen. Achieving universal health coverage is not possible without building community health systems.”
UNAIDS estimates that there are more than 1 million community health workers in Africa today, but most focus on a single health problem and are under-trained, unpaid or under-paid, and not well integrated in health systems. The new initiative endorsed by AIDS Watch Africa seeks to retrain existing community health workers, where feasible, and to recruit new health workers to reach the 2 million target.
“Few investments generate such a remarkable social and economic return as community health workers,” said Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Earth Institute, Columbia University. “Community health worker programmes are essentially self-sustaining, in that they avert illness, keep workers healthy and productive and contribute to economic growth and opportunity.”
While community health workers may hold the key in many settings to achieving the 90–90–90 targets, the benefits of this new initiative extend well beyond the AIDS response. The initiative will expedite gains across the health targets of Sustainable Development Goal 3, create new jobs that will strengthen local and national economies and offer new opportunities to young people. The new initiative is aligned with the World Health Organization’s Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health.
Start Free Stay Free AIDS Free
At the AIDS Watch Africa meeting, the participants also called on member states and development partners to support the African Union campaign to eliminate new HIV infections among children and keep mothers alive as part of the Start Free Stay Free AIDS Free collaborative framework.
“Complacency gives birth to regression of the gains made in reducing HIV prevalence, said, Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda. “We in Uganda have rekindled the campaign to end AIDS; the science exists, as well as the medication. We can win this battle.”
AIDS Watch Africa is a statutory entity of the African Union with the specific mandate to lead advocacy, accountability and resource mobilization efforts to advance a robust African response to end AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria by
‘Take pre-emptive steps to secure Oyo State’, Akande advises Makinde
Oyo state governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde, has been urged to take immediate and decisive measures to secure lives and property in the state.
Professor Adeolu Akande, the Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, made the plea on Monday, in the wake of the security measures announced by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State.
The Ondo State Government had on Monday given a 7-day ultimatum to illegal occupants of forest reserves in the state to vacate their hideout. The government also announced many other stringent steps to secure the state from incorrigible elements.
Professor Akande noted the extreme measures would make Ondo State uncomfortable for the criminals, who would seek a new haven and continue to wreak havoc.
“It is logical to expect that the displacement of these criminal elements from Ondo State will lead them to migrate to comfortable zones to continue their nefarious activities. This is the risk Oyo State faces if it fails to take stern measures to keep such elements away from the state.
“We should not be unmindful of claims by the Chairman of the Amotekun corps in Oyo State that the forest reserves in the Oke Ogun area have become a haven for criminals from neighbouring countries.
“It is therefore of great urgency that Governor Makinde announces measures to ensure that Oyo State does not become a natural comfort zone for criminal elements expelled from neighbouring states.
The APC Chieftain further noted that the rising crime wave in the state and across the country calls for collective action from all citizens.
“This is no time to trade culpability. The state is facing a serious security challenge, and all of us must join hands with the governor to salvage the situation. Criminals do not distinguish between political parties when they commit a crime. They do not choose their victims according to their political affiliation. All hands must be on deck to return our dear state to a secure and peaceful one”, the NCC boss submitted.
NDDC: Akpabio threatens legal action over fake news of $5m bribe to Malami to secure sole administrator
Senator Godswill Akpabio, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, has denied the news making the rounds in some media outfits that he offered a bribe of $5 million to the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, Abubakar Malami, to secure the appointment of a sole administrator for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Also, the former governor of Akwa Ibom State has threatened legal action against the purveyors of the news inorder to clear his name and that of the Attorney General from the malicious publication.
The position of the Minister was contained in a statement signed by his media aide, Anietie Ekong, and made available to newsmen.
The statement read, “the attention of the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has been drawn to a piece of fake news which claimed that Senator Akpabio paid $5 million bribe to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and others to secure the appointment of a Sole Administrator for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
“We wish to state categorically that this is a piece of malicious concoction manufactured from the pit of hell by mischief -makers. It is a figment of the imagination of the author of the fake news. Senator Akpabio denies the story in its entirety. The authors of the fake news should be ready to back up their claim or face the full wrath of the law.
“The story is a desperate attempt by some unscrupulous bloggers to impugn the integrity of the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and the Honourable Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami as the claim is not only spurious but utterly ridiculous.
“The fact is that in a suit number ABJ/CS/617/2020 filed by a Civil Society Organization, Forum for Accountability and Good Governance, at a Federal High Court in Abuja, Justice Ahmed Mohammed had granted an order restraining the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC from performing the functions of the board and accessing the Commission’s offices and files.
“The Order clearly listed the Managing Director Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, Acting Executive Director of Projects Dr Cairo Ojougboh, Mrs Caroline Nagboh and Cecilia Akintomide as those restrained. The Order also asked that “the most senior civil servant or administrator in the Commission be appointed” to take charge of the Commission.
“It was based on this order that President Muhammadu Buhari approved the elevation of the Acting Executive Director of Finance and Administration, Mr Effiong Akwa, being the most Senior Administrator to take over the headship of the NDDC as an Interim Administrator pending the completion of the Forensic Audit Exercise.
“It is therefore absurd for anyone to even imagine that the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio would bribe the Attorney General before an Order of the Court is complied with as the purveyors of the fake news have stated. The general public should discountenance this piece of trash.
‘It is obvious that some persons who are scared of the ongoing forensic audit of the NDDC as ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari are working tirelessly to scuttle the exercise by blackmailing the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio. Their modus operandi is to churn out fake news in a bid to stop Senator Akpabio from sanitizing the NDDC. Otherwise, how can a responsible news website make such a grievous allegation without any shred of evidence to back up its claim.
“However, we wish to state that no amount of sponsored fake news and blackmail would deter Senator Akpabio from doing the right thing as directed by Mr. President. The Minister has the overwhelming support of the impoverished masses of the Niger Delta who have borne the brunt of underdevelopment of the region over the years”, it concluded.
Alaafin of Oyo, encyclopedia of Yoruba culture and tradition – Tegbe
A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo state, Engr. Olasunkanmi Tegbe has described the Alaafin of Oyo, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III as an encyclopedia of the culture and traditions of the entire Yoruba race.
Congratulating the custodian of culture on his 50th coronation anniversary, Tegbe said Oba Adeyemi has displayed uncommon wisdom and emotional intelligence in administering his domain, fostering peace and sustainable development.
In a statement signed on Thursday and made available to Mega Icon Magazine, the APC chieftain added that the Alaafin has not only “sustained our heritage and identity as a people”, but also used his throne to build bridges of friendship and harmony in the state, across Yoruba Land and beyond.
“I felicitate with His Imperial Majesty, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III on the 50th Anniversary of his ascension to the throne.
“In half a century, Kábíyèsí has displayed uncommon wisdom and emotional intelligence in administering his domain, fostering peace and sustainable development.
“Iku Baba Yeye has sustained our heritage and identity as a people. He is best described as an encyclopedia of the culture and traditions of the entire Yoruba race.
“Our Father has used his throne to build bridges of friendship and harmony in the state, across Yoruba Land and beyond.
“I remain proud of his progressive ideals, particularly the legacy of peace and harmony which Yorubas are known for.
“I pray that Kabiyesi spends many more years in good health”, the statement read.
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