21, 000 people currently living with HIV/AIDS in Gambia

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

West Coast Region AIDS committee’s fourth and final quarterly meeting of 2017 has revealed that 21, 000 people are currently living with HIV and AIDS in The Gambia of which 7,000 are on treatment, leaving a good number of people living with the global health threatening infection without treatment.

Presenting the report before health officers at the conference hall of the regional governor’s office in Brikama last Thursday, the regional HIV/AIDS coordinator Lamin D. Njie said last year, they have conducted monthly data verification exercises at all the health facilities in the region.

He said the exercise included verification of anti-retro viral drug, voluntary counseling and testing and prevention of mother to child transmission.

Last October, UNAIDS office in The Gambia convened a national consultation on the 2018-2021 HIV/AIDS joint catch up programme for the Emergency Plan for West Africa and for the UN Joint Programme.

Mr. Njie said following the phasing out of global fund round eight project, Gambia has secured another three-year funding project which will be implemented from 2018 to 2020.

He said the fund will address treatment, care and support programs for people living with HIV with changes in approach and protocol.

In 2013, UNAids, the joint United Nations programme to combat HIV/Aids, announced it will be closing operations in The Gambia, necessitated by financial constraints but later resumed. The Gambia is the only country in the West African sub-region that was affected by that decision.

Ebrima Sarr of Allah Tentu support kafo expressed concern with the number of people living with HIV who he feared could be left from the treatment programme, saying they must be treated if ‘we’ are to achieve zero new infections.

Mamoudou Keita, a staff at the governor’s office and Haruna Badjie, the regional social welfare coordinator both stressed the need for the committee to prepare a work plan that will guide and enable them to raise fund for the implementation of their activities.

In January 2007, Gambia’s former President Yahya Jammeh claimed he found a cure for HIV/Aids and asthma with natural herbs. He later opened a treatment centre and patients were advised to cease taking their anti-retroviral drugs.

Despite concerns by the World Health Organisation and the United Nations about his use of unscientific treatment that could have dangerous results, including the infection of others by those who thought they had been cured by the method, Mr. Jammeh continued with his treatment programme until he was defeated in last December’s election.

The regional community development officer Wandifa Drammeh suggests that community radios within the region could play crucial role in sensitising communities on voluntary counseling and testing and encourage male participation reduce stigma and discrimination.

Author: Amadou Jallow