By Asmau Ahmad
Bishop Sunday Onuoha, Executive Director, Nigeria Inter-Faith Action Association on Friday said Muslim and Christian faithful would ensure the adoption of new strategy on the management of HIV/AIDS. The latest strategy of managing HIV/AIDS is known as SAVE (Safer practices, Access to treatment, voluntary counselling and Empowerment).
Onuoha said this in Abuja while receiving the Coordinator, Association of Religious Leaders Living with and Affected by HIV/AIDS (NINERELA)
He said the association was already in partnership with NACA, Global Fund, USAID and other foreign donors on how all faith community can have comprehensive response to the issue of HIV/AIDS.
“I can tell you that I will give it all the push to ensure that SAVE become part of the new strategy to be adopted by NACA in the next review strategy plan,” he said.
According to him, the association is very passionate and compassionate with people living with HIV/AIDS.
“They are human beings like us; they are like people who have hypertension or diabetes. HIV infection is part of human challenge; we all need to do our best to address.’’
He said the faith community has taken up the campaign against leprosy and polio to a halt in Nigeria, stressing that with the full involvement of religious institutions HIV/AIDS would soon be eradicated.
“I want to assure you of our total commitment, you are already on the right track and you adopted the best approach, which is to carry all the stakeholders along.
“And this will go beyond the faith community; it will go into business community,’’ said Onouha. Earlier, the leader of the delegation, Mr Ibrahim Danladi, said the model was implementable and would address challenges in HIV management in Nigeria.
Danladi, who is the National Coordinator, Association of Religious Leaders Living with and Affected by HIV/AIDS (NINERELA), said the ABC model presently in use in Nigeria was in dire need of review.
He said the group was promoting the new model for adoption by government because of its efficacy and ability to address gaps observed in the strategy presently used in Nigeria.
“We are here today to sell this idea of the SAVE model because we have seen it work in other countries with varying degrees of success recorded.
“The issue is that this ABC model that is in use in Nigeria does not seem to be addressing all the challenges associated with the management of the disease.”
Danladi said due to emerging challenges and other inherent factors the ABC model could no longer address the plight of persons living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.
He said the new strategy emphasized safer practices, access to treatment, voluntary counselling, testing and empowerment in the management of HIV/AIDS.
“SAVE is more inclusive, comprehensive, and compassionate and is not a replacement for the existing ABC model.
“It is most desirable because it has the potential to confront stigma and discrimination as well as appeals to all stakeholders.”