River Region, the smallest region of The Gambia in terms of size and
population, has witnessed rapid increase of HIV and AIDS, making it the region
with the highest rate.
This is according to Lamin Simma, the regional coordinator of youth and sports at Pakalinding Multipurpose Youth Centre in Jarra West District.
The geographical location of Soma, the regional capital of LRR, as the centre between the Greater Banjul Area, Basse, Northern Senegal, Southern Senegal and Guinea Bissau, has contributed to the increased HIV and AIDS incidence.
Besides, Mr Simma disclosed that there were 62 reported cases of cervical cancer in the region.
He said the Multipurpose Youth Centre in Pakalinding needs the support of all stakeholders in combating the problems faced in LRR.
The youth coordinator revealed that Pakalinding Youth Centre is the only centre established in LRR, adding that one of the functions of the centre is to engage the youth in different activities.
He further revealed that the centre has accommodated series of activities, like training purposes, hosting of workshops, meetings, among others.
Simma pointed out that the new committee of the youth centre has drawn an action plan, but it is yet to be implemented. The plan includes providing outreach programme such as awareness campaign, encouraging and promoting sporting activities, using community radio stations in disseminating information to the populace, family planning programmes, skill training, youth training on leadership, reproductive health, providing counseling to youth groups in terms of transmission of HIV and AIDS, among others.
He, however, lamented that the centre is faced with donor fatigue, non-availability of water, the need to service the IT department and the provision of night watchman to help secure the centre to avoid hoodlums or thieves from breaking into the facility to pilfer the equipment therein.
The UNFPA communication officer, Lamin Camara, disclosed that the UNFPA has vested interest in the centre, stressing the need for the new committee to set out multiple strategies.
He expressed optimism that UNFPA would be pleased to replicate the same in other regions, if the centre succeeds in achieving it goals.