Press Release From the National AIDS Commission
In support of the Government’s Decentralization and Local Government Policy, a high power delegation from the National AIDS Commission (NAC) and the United Nations Joint Program on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) is currently conducting series of workshops in the southeastern counties of River Gee, Maryland and Grand Kru. The workshops will lead to the recruitment of county coordinators to continue the National AIDS Commission’s work of coordinating the HIV response in the three counties. The activities are also aimed at ensuring that these counties adopt the multi-sector approach in providing HIV services, and to encourage the communities in these counties make use of services that prevent mother to child transmission of HIV. The multi-sector approach incorporates all sectors in addition to the health sector to address issues related to HIV and AIDS. The workshops bring together a cross section of 40 participants from each county. Participants include superintendents, representatives of line ministries, district commissioners, women groups, youth groups, civil society organizations, city mayors, religious leaders, disabled community, among others. The three-day per county event is supported by the United Nations Joint Program on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) under the H4+ SIDA Grant implementation framework for Liberia.
The delegation’s first stop in the provincial city of Fish Town, River Gee County was characterized by a high degree of cooperation and interactive discussions between the locals and the NAC delegation. Welcoming the delegation to Fish Town, River Gee’s acting superintendent Rev. Richard Seekah Teh pledged his county’s full support to the work of the National AIDS Commission and its partners, and to ensure the fulfillment of the President’s dream of zero new HIV infection. For her part, NAC’s Commissioner for Decentralization Jessie Duncan thanked the people of River Gee for showing up in large numbers to participate in the workshop. She stressed that the main idea behind the exercise is to encourage county ownership, thereby subscribing to the principles of the national response to HIV, and not a Monrovia response to HIV.
Also speaking in River Gee, UNAIDS’ H4+ focal person Morris Wei intimated that his agency has received support from SIDA to scale up the demand and utilization of prevention of mother to child transmission services in the three counties. He disclosed that based on agreed criteria with the government and the H4+ Group, the H4+ team is currently working with about 15 health facilities affecting 189 communities across River Gee, Grand Kru, and Maryland counties. He further stated his optimism that the county-wide consultations held in collaboration with the NAC, will facilitate the establishment of HIV coordinating mechanisms that will among other things carry out community sensitization and create demand for the utilization of the PMTCT services in the selected counties in line with the H4+ SIDA Grant implementation framework.
For their part, representatives of civil society, faith based and community based organizations expressed hope that the idea of decentralization will be actualized in their county. Topics covered include Basic Facts on HIV and AIDS, Overview of the National HIV Response, Ministry of Health’s Response in River Gee, Gender, Human Rights and HIV, among others.