Home News Stakeholders commend President Jonathan for accenting to HIV Anti-Discrimination Act

Stakeholders commend President Jonathan for accenting to HIV Anti-Discrimination Act

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By Becky John

Stakeholders in the health sector have commended President Goodluck Jonathan for signing into law the HIV/AIDS Anti-Discrimination Act. A cross section of the stakeholders gave their commendations in separate interviews with the press in Abuja on Wednesday. They said the president’s accent to the law was a step in the right direction and would among other benefits prevent HIV-related discrimination and provides for access to health care and other services.
The Chief Executive Officer, Institute of Human Virology Nigeria, Dr Patrick Dakum, expressed delight at the news of Jonathan’s signing of the law. Dakum told newsmen that the president’s signing of the law was in response to the cries of people living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.
He expressed happiness that the law would now give equal opportunities for people living with HIV/AIDS to freely express their potentials.
“It is indeed heartwarming that the cries of people living with HIV and other stakeholders have been heard and the bill signed.
“Our workplaces, hospitals and the whole nation will benefit from an environment that gives equal opportunities to all citizens to be the best that they can be irrespective of their HIV status.
“This is cheery news,’’ Dakum said.

On his part, the President, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr Kayode Obembe, said it was worthy of commendation and was in line with what the association had always clamored for. He said discrimination had never prevented people from contracting the disease, stressing that it had rather increased the rate of infection in the country. According to him, the signing of this law is a right step forward in the right direction because it helps to curb one of the biggest challenges in HIV/AIDS care and treatment.
Similarly, Mr Ibrahim Doma, the Coordinator of the Association of Religious Leaders Living with and Affected by HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NINERELA), said the body received the news of the development with joy. He said it was the most cheering news received by persons living with or affected by HIV/AIDS in Nigeria in the New Year. Doma also commended the president’s commitment towards fighting HIV/AIDS in the country.
According to him, the signing of this law is a big plus for Nigeria in her task to combat discrimination against HIV/AIDS patients in the nation.
“With this I can confidently tell you that we have started the journey towards addressing one of the numerous problems that people living with the disease are facing in Nigeria.
“It is a cheering news and we are happy for this development,’’ he said. He urged stakeholders in the health sector to push for the implementation of the law in order to enable Nigeria actualise her commitment to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. Doma urged other stakeholders to support government’s efforts by making the necessary arrangements for the law to be implemented.
“What I want to say at this juncture again is that government should back this commitment with the necessary actions by releasing resources for implementers of the laws to stem the tide of the disease.
“This is necessary because it is one thing to enact the laws and another to implement them, so Mr President has played his part, let others do their part too,’’ he said.

The bill was passed by the National Assembly on April 10, 2014 and transmitted to the president on Thursday Jan. 29, for assent.

The law provided for the prevention of HIV-related discrimination, access to healthcare and other services. It also provides for protection of the human rights and dignity of people living with HIV and those affected by AIDS in Nigeria.

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