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‘How religious leaders can help children with HIV’



Caritas Nigeria has emphasised the role of religious leaders in combating the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the country.

Noting that it would be impossible to turn them into doctors by a short training, the faith-based foundation believes that the country can leverage on their pastoral leadership training and compassion to address public health problems.

At a one-day summit in Abuja to review the implementation of its ongoing project tagged Galvanising Religious Leaders for Accelerated Identification and Linkage to Paediatric ART (GRAIL), the priests, who assembled from various geo-political zones, commended the initiative.

The executive secretary, Caritas Nigeria, Rev. Fr. Evaristus Bassey, maintained that the greatest weapon against HIV in the society is information.

He described the GRAIL project as a nationwide strategy driven by Caritas Nigeria, the developmental agency of the Catholic Church, to bring focus to the large gap in the children living with HIV and who should be on life-saving drugs but were not.

According to the priest, the project has succeeded in addressing both the myths surrounding HIV as well as the associated stigma and discrimination, which makes it difficult for people to comfortably come out and ask for a HIV test.

With funding from donors, Caritas had engaged religious leaders in identifying people living with HIV in various communities, particularly under-five children, linking them to health care providers for treatment.

So far, the project has been operating in the south east, south south, south west and north central geo-political zones of the country.

Meanwhile, wife of the resident, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, has been commended for her effort in addressing challenges facing women’s health and other life-saving interventions targeted at reproductive, maternal, newborns, adolescents health and nutrition in Nigeria.

Edo State governor’s wife, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki, made the commendation yesterday during a three-day zonal Reproductive, Maternal, Child, Adolescent, Health+Nutrition (RMNCAH+N) advocacy training for governors’ wives and their technical officers in the south south.

Mrs. Obaseki described the advocacy for investment in RMNCAH+N put together by Mrs. Buhari as apt and wholeheartedly welcomed by the Edo government.

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