The Executive Director, Edo State Agency for the Control of Aids (EDOSACA), Flora Oyakhilome, has praised Governor Godwin Obaseki’s repositioning of the agency, noting that the constitution of the agency’s board and deployment of staff for its operations have improved their response to the fight against Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immunodeficiency Disease Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) in the state.
She said the revamp of the Agency will further reduce the prevalence rate of the virus in the state.
Oyakhilome disclosed this during a chat with journalists in Benin City, Edo State capital, noting that with the board in place, the agency is working to improve HIV/AIDS response and provision of better services to People Living With HIV/AIDS.
She said “improved funding and resource mobilisation in the last few years have seen the prevalence rate in the state reduce from 5.3 to 4.1. Though higher than the national rate, of 3.1, efforts are in top-gear to see further reduction.”
She attributed the downward trend to, “support given to Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) for awareness creation in the 18 local government areas in the state, reach out to vulnerable children who lost their parents to HIV/AIDS as well as to other groups working to check the spread of the virus and providing support for people living with the virus.”
She said the state government deployed 15 personnel to EDOSACA to strengthen its workforce, noting, “We are also working with the National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA), at the national level, and the Local Agency for the Control of Aids, which operates at the grassroots in the 18 local government councils of Edo State.”
“In all the local government council headquarters in the state, we have HIV/AIDS desk officers. Before now, the World Health Organisation (WHO) adopted a ‘Top to Bottom’ strategy which did not help much. So we have now adopted the ‘Bottom-to-Top’ approach,” she added.
Mrs. Oakhilome explained that with the revamp of EDOSACA, “we have identified the need to sensitise more persons in remote areas. We provide support for LACA, line ministries such the ministries for Women Affairs and Social Development; Health; Youth and Special Duties, through which we reach out to vulnerable children who lost their parents to HIV/AIDS.
“We also interface with youth participating in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme and work with the Ministry of Education on family life and AIDs education.”
She noted that the agency counsels and tests Libya returnees and residents in the state, as part of its mandate, adding, “Those who tested positive were referred to the health centres where they can access the Anti-Retroviral (ARV) drugs as the state government has ensured that the drugs are obtained for free.”