Mimiko promises Ondo Emergency Medical Services, Red Cross Alliance
As Play Safe Initiative takes off in three local councils
In continuation of the drive to ensure zero Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) new infection, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) related deaths, discrimination and stigmatization of people living with HIV, the Ondo State government, through its Agency for the Control of AIDS (ODSACA) has flagged off mobile HIV counseling and testing to all wards, camps and settlements in Akoko South East, Ondo East and Ilaje local government areas of the state.
Also, the Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko has assured of his administration’s partnership with the Nigerian Red Cross Society in disaster management, cross -fertilization of ideas and skill management.
Mimiko, who gave the assurance in his office in Akure during his investiture as the State patron of the Red Cross Society, said the Emergency Medical Services of the state government would work closely with society to further render assistance to victims of roads disaster.
Speaking at the flag off ceremony, the Secretary to the State Government and Chairman, Ondo State Agency for the Control of AIDS (ODSACA), Dr. Aderotimi Adelola, said there is need for collective efforts to minimize the spread of the virus, stressing that HIV counseling and testing is the entry point to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support; and as such the people must cooperate with the government towards preventing HIV, because everyone is either infected or affected by the virus.
Represented at the event by the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Mr. Benson Ogunfuyi, the SSG said the State Agency for the Control of AIDS decides to extend mobile HIV counseling and testing to the local governments in order to prevent the spread of the virus in the rural areas, adding that the people must continually embrace the prevention intervention techniques and know their status.
He maintained that the government through the support of World Bank has empowered the Local Action Committee on AIDS (LACA) to assist in the campaign against the virus at various local governments.
Adelola maintained that extending the campaign to the local governments will ensure everyone regardless of status, religion; ethnicity or political inclinations know their status.
Flagging off the programme in Ondo East local government, the Caretaker Chairman, Mr. Wale Akinlosotu, stated that the programme will enlighten members of the communities, as logistic and needed facilities have been put in place by ODSACA to help combat the virus.
He stressed that HIV is not a death sentence and therefore called on infected persons to visit government hospitals for treatment and care, noting that the people must not stigmatise or discriminate against them.
Similarly the Caretaker Chairman of Akoko South East local government, Mr. Olusola Agbi, represented by the local government Supervisor for Health, Mr. Kazeem Afunmo and the Caretaker Chairman of Ilaje local government, represented by his Special Assistant, Mr. Akin Ayeye, noted that HIV/AIDS is a major challenge confronting the world today, hence there is need for aggressive campaign by the government and other partners.
They urged the people to cooperate with the Community Volunteers who will be going from house to house, ward to ward and community to community in order to carry out HIV counseling and testing, adding that the people should key into the advice and procedure given.
Reacting, LACA Manager, Akoko South East local government, Mr. Francis Olowo and his Ondo East contrerpart, noted that Nigeria is the second largest nation of people living with HIV/AIDS in the world, after South Africa and Nigeria has the highest number of infected adults in West Africa.
They urged the people to leverage on the knowledge of basic facts about HIV/AIDS in order to modify public opinion, perception and attitude towards the virus, while information should be constructive, simple, clear and accessible to demystify myths about HIV/AIDS.
Similarly, the LACA Manager, Ilaje local government said the programme will enable the people to know their HIV status, acquire and utilize the play safe techniques, while advising the volunteers to own the programme in order to get desired result for the local governments.
Meanwhile, the Governor noted that the objectives of the Emergency Medical Services, which centre on rendering humanitarian service to the people are in line with his government’s policies in the area of alleviating the suffering of the downtrodden.
He saluted the spirit of volunteerism, stressing that his administration has done a lot to promote such spirit to the best interest of the people and government of the State. He commended the society for rendering selfless services during the Arakale fire incident in Akure and the Irele strange disease.
He said: “I must commend you for your humanitarian service to the people, particularly by exposing yourself to risks inspite of the risks involved in rendering your service, you are always there at the disaster zone. “What we are doing in this state, especially our Abiye safemotherhood programme, our mega school concept and the free shuttle bus service are geared towards alleviating the suffering of our people and to bridge the gap between the poor and the rich in our State.”
Earlier in his speech, the national president of the Nigerian Red Cross Society, Mr Bolaji Anan Akpan, who was represented by the national treasurer of the society, Prince Yemisi Adeaga, ascribed the investiture to the governor’s outstanding achievements in health, education, agriculture and urban renewal among others.
He noted that the society has watched with keen interest the passion of Governor Mimiko to elevate the living standard of the people in all ramifications.
Also in his speech, the state chairman of the society, Mr. Timothy Babarinsa commended the Mimiko- led administration’s unprecedented achievements in the provision of modern heathcare delivery, particularly the prompt response to the recent strange disease that broke out in Irele council area of the state.