Somaliland: A Generation with Zero HIV/Aids Infections

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Health Minister Dr Hussein Hog hands 500 to a PLWA beneficiary The government reiterates its commitment to ensure effective leadership and support in halting and reversing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the country- Dr Hussein Hog

 58 new infections monthly-SOLNAC

 Information ministry committed to continued HIV/Aids awareness- Mohamed Osman Mire Sayid

 We plead for none discrimination of people living with Aids-Amina

 SAHAN is committed to the zero tolerance on discrimination of PLWAs- Anwar A Warsame

By: Yusuf M Hasan

HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – The world Aids Day 2012 was commemorated in the country with stakeholders pledging to intensify activities related to the attainment of Zero new infections.

Various stakeholders who include the government, International and Local NGOs, UN agencies and People Living with HIV Aids congregated who at a Hotel in Hargeisa to Commemorate the World Aids 2012 pledge to struggle for the attainment of this year’s WAD theme of “Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero deaths from AIDS-related illness. Zero discrimination.”

Speaking on behalf of people living with Aids-PLWAs Miss Amina who is the chairperson of Rahma a local organization formed by PLWAs said that those infected or affected by HIV/Aids continue to encounter massive discrimination from members of society especially the youth.

Pleading to the youths to stop this discrimination Miss Amina (noMiss Amina who lives with HIVAids addresses WAD 2012t her real name) who is the leader of Al-Rahma a local NGO whose membership of is of 36 women infected with HIV/Aids, said, “We request the youth to stop mistreating us because we are your sisters who happen to have the misfortune of being infected with HIV/Aids”

While commenting the Somaliland HIV/Aids Network-SAHAN for continued support since inception Miss Amina lamented the lack of support from donor organizations who pour millions of dollars into other local organizations dealing with Aids while neglecting Al-Rahma which is the best conduit for such support.

She also wondered why Talowadag a local organizations that supports PLWAs provides its beneficiaries with half the food supplied by donor organizations, while wondering where the other half is used for or given to. She also revealed that the WFP rations availed PLWAs at the group hospital are always expired and thus not consumable.

In conclusion the Al-Rahma organization said that People living with HIV/Aids in fully support this year’s World Aids day theme of “Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero deaths from AIDS-related illness. Zero discrimination” for the attainment of these objectives is significant as it will lessen the number of Somalilanders who have to persevere the difParticipants follow proceedings of the WAD commemorationsficulties related to the infection.

Though the national HIV/Aids prevalence is 1.3% the Somaliland National Aids Commission-SOLNAC reports that the country records an average of 58 new HIV/Aids infections on a monthly basis.

According to the Executive director of SOLNAC Mohamed Dahir these figures are derived from Voluntary Counselling and Testing-VCT that have seen an intensified campaign with a specific focus on males since most of the data has always from women who secure the services during pre-natal check-ups.

Since inception in 2004 of the free VCT services that are provided in most public heath institutions in the country 1,572 case of HIV/Aids infection have been discovered out 20,738 citizens tested. Of the 20,737 voluntarily tested persons 13,271 were women who incidentally have the lion’s share of infections.

The ministry of information reaffirmed to its commitment to the continued provision of HIV/Aids awareness as a prelude to achieving Zero new infections in the country.

The Acting Director Ministry of information Mr Mohamed Osman Mire ‘Sayid’ who is also the Managing editor of the state owned Dawan Media Group said that the ministry which has been involved in awareness raising activities is placed in a better position for such since the three arms of information i.e. Radio Hargeisa, Dawan mews papers (English & Somali) and the National TV station are now able to be accessed in all corners of the country.

Said he, “As it is government policy to ensure that citizens in all corners are availed relevant information the ministry of information which has continuously provided programs on HIV/Aids shall intensify activities”

Mr Sayid furMr Sayid Mire the DMG Boss says government is committed to awareness raisingther pledge to ensure that the information ministry plays an active role in pursuit of achieving the goal of “Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero deaths from AIDS-related illness. Zero discrimination”

The Somaliland HIV Aids Network-SAHAN which informed that though cases of discrimination and stigmatization of people living with Aids are still prevalent activities undertaken by the 103 local NGOs affiliates of the network have ensued with a significant reduction in stigmatization.

According to the Executive director of SAHAN Mr Anwar Abdirahman Warsame before engaging the 103 affiliates with PLWAs anti-discrimination and stigma reduction awareness his Network undertook a proper assessment within the organizations.

Apart from helping reduce discrimination and stigmatization of citizens affected or infected with HIV/Aids SAHAN is also supporting them directly with various capacity building programs especially Al-Rahma

SAHAN has also been involved in providing seed money for income generating activities to 15 persons living with Aids to the tune of $500 as part of a pilot project geared towards ensuring that the HIV/Aids infected persons have quality livelihoods.

“SAHAN is not only committed but determined to see a zero tolerance on discrimination of People living with Aids as well as Zero figures in new HIV/Aids infections nationwide” Said Anwar Abdirahman Warsame

To bring the WAD 2012 commemorations in Somaliland to conclusion was the minister of health Dr Hussein M Hog informed that Government of Somaliland has a strong commitment and action for halting the spread of the disease and reverse to a point where all are safe.

Said he, “The government is actively promoting public health measures in all six regions of the country with support from international and local partners with the National AIDS Commission emphasising on the establishment of better HIV/AIDS coordination, control, and treatment and care services in the country.

The health minister who informed that the Government has mandated SOLNAC to ensure involvement of political leaders, faith based organizations, government ministries, national and international NGOs in achieving the national goals.

While There are enormous challenges faced in accomplishing this work i.e. Limited financial and human resources, inadequate sophisticated diagnosis and treatment facilities, limited treatment and care access to the most affected people are the major obstacles in achieving the objectives the state hopes that a reversal is possible through better cooperation and collaboration with the neighbouring countries, United Nations international organizations, and the Somalilanders living inside and outside of the country to control and eventually eliminate AIDS in Somaliland. Herewith, the government reiterates its commitment to ensure effective leadership and support in halting and reversing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the country.

Before declaring commutations officially over the health minister handed three women infected with HIV/Aids $500 each a seed money for starting income generation activities. The money was availed by Talowadag coalition

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