Jul 13, 2011, 4:00 PM
The Youth Against Aids Network (YAAN) and UNAIDS on Thursday organised a daylong review of the National Youth Policy on prevention guidelines of HIV/AIDS at Tango Conference Hall.
The policy review exercise on the document of 2008-2011 prevention on HIV/AIDS, brought together youths from various regions in the country to identify the gaps, challenges as well as the way forward in the fight against HIV/AIDS among young people in The Gambia.
Welcoming the participants, the chairperson of the National Youth Council, Fabakary Kalleh, revealed that YAAN is an organization that has been in the country for a while.
Since then the association has been carrying out activities with youths in fighting against AIDS.
“The policy is in line with the framework of the National Youth Council,” he said, adding that the forum was to look at what each and everyone has done over the period and what follows next. Mr Kalleh encourages YAAN to engage youths more into such activities.
Lamin Camara, representing UNAIDS country coordinator Nuha Ceesay, underscored the importance of the review exercise.
He said the review process was timely since young people are crucial to the implementation of such review activities.
“Young people are half of today’s population and tomorrow thus HIV/AIDS is a challenge,” he said emphasizing the need for the youth to take the responsibility of the challenge. “UNAIDS is proud to be associated with this initiative,” he added.
According to him, UNAIDS has launched a new strategy which has three key goals, such as zero new infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero stigma and discrimination.
“This we cannot talk about it without the involvement of young people,” he said.
However, Mr Camara challenged the youth participants to take concrete steps, as they carry out the review, to respond to national calls.
He also urged participants representing their various regions to take the responses at the review to the doorsteps of their people.
He as well assured the youth of UNAIDS’ support as wells as the UN Systems.
In his opening remarks on the occasion, Landing Sanneh, youth coordinator, Ministry of Youth and Sports, enjoined previous speakers to thank YAAN for coming up with the initiative. “It is very deeply undertaken and it will go a long way in mitigating HIV/AIDS in the country,” he said.
According to him, it is strongly believed that AIDS is mostly associated with the youth sectors.
The review programme, he says, will avail youth leaders the opportunities to refresh their minds and strategies for progress.
“Few years ago, lots of efforts have been put in by YAAN to address the needs of young people as far as HIV/AIDS is concerned,” he said.
Mr Sanyang tasked the youth to re-double their efforts by coming up with good strategies to ensure they contribute immensely towards suppressing AIDS.
He thanked UNAIDS for its contribution towards the empowerment of young people as well as the UN Systems taking into account their intervention in relevant projects in the country.
He also urged the youth to take the exercise seriously and challenged them to emulate YAAN and other youth organizations in the fight against AIDS.