By Asma’u Ahmad
Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, said his administration will implement the State Agency for the Control of AIDS (SACA) Law of 2009 in the state.
Governor Obaseki gave this assurance when he received members of the Civil Society for HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (CiSHAN), Edo Chapter, who paid him a courtesy visit in Benin on Wednesday.
Mr Obaseki said that it was worthless to enact a law without its full implementation. He, therefore, mandated the state Ministry of Health to work out modalities within the next seven days on its implementation.
The governor directed the ministry to evolve suggestions on the establishment of the SACA board as well as recommendation on the constitution of the Governor’s Council on HIV/AIDS.
He commended the association for helping to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS in the state, adding that the effort had helped to reduce the prevalence of the condition. “I want to encourage you despite the frustration you face; you should not relent, we want to thank you for the lives you are saving,” he said.
The governor promised his administration’s readiness to collaboratith the association, especially in the area of eradicating stigmatisation and other challenges. “I want us to involve the Ministry of Information for publicity purposes, so that we can begin to work with them on propagating the methods associated with HIV/AIDS.”
Earlier, the state Coordinator of the group, Dr Bright Oniovokukor, said the association would work with government and other HIV/AIDS implementing partners to curb the spread of the disease.
Oniovokukor commended the effort of the state government in the passage of the SACA Law and urged the present administration to ensure its implementation. He said the establishment of EDOSACA Board and the Constitution of the Governor’s Committee on AIDS as stipulated in the law would go a long way in improving the state’s response to the challenge.
He said donor agencies were gradually abandoning the project and that many private institutions in the state had not keyed into the HIV/AIDS response. Newsmen report that the prevalence of the virus in the state as at 2016 was 4.1 per cent with 60,000 people are currently accessing treatment.