Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Chantal Biya Urges Youth to Intensify Fight against HIV/AIDS

                                          By Christopher Ambe
      First lady Chantal Biya has implored Cameroonian youth to intensify the fight against HIV/AIDS in order to be free from the deadly pandemic.
     The First Lady made the call  ,last September 10, at Buea Council premises,through Jean Stephane Biatcha, Executive Secretary of African Synergy Against AIDS and suffering, who represented her at the closing ceremony of a two-week “AIDS-free Holidays” campaign, chaired by Southwest Governor, Bernard Okalia Bilai.
      The “AIDS-free Holidays” is an initiative of Madam Chantal Biya, Founding President of African Synergy, for an AIDS-free generation.
       According to official sources, Madam Chantal Biya created and launched the AIDS-free vacation campaign in 2003, conscious that mostly young people are victims of HIV/AIDS.
“AIDS-free Holidays”, according   to a leaflet distributed at the ceremony, “is a sensitization campaign for young people (school-going or not) organized during holidays.
 Twelve years since its inception the encouraging results have made the campaign a national activity, involving several partners who are actors in the fight     against AIDS.
     The Recorder learned that since 2003, about 6000 peer educators have been recruited and trained in the 10 regions of Cameroon, with more than nine million people sensitized; about 1.3 million educational talks organized; some 2.5millon condoms distributed and more than 200,000 people screened.
The theme for this year’s campaign was “Youth, the fight against HIV/AIDS Continues”
     At the Buea closing ceremony, Dr. Tchatchoua , Southwest Regional Coordinator for the Technical Group for the Fight Against HIV/AIDS, revealed that  41 out of 2031 people who screened for HIV/AIDS tested positive, giving a prevalence rate of 1.8% .
     Mr. Biatcha considered the very low prevalence rate as satisfactory and lauded the sensitization efforts of the peer educators.
Governor Okalia  Bilai while commending  the initiative of the First Lady, reiterated the need for young people to intensify the war against the pandemic.
    Ivoline Mbinkar, one of the 100 peer educators in the southwest region, said it was exciting helping young people to stay to healthy. She said they sensitized their target population for two weeks and encouraged them to go for the HIV test so to know their status.
“ I call on the youth to do the AIDS test so to know their status. If they know their status, they would adjust their lifestyles”, she said.
    Gifts (didactic material and foodstuff) from the First Lady were handed to the peer educators.
     The well-attended ceremony was animated by cultural dances and musicians such as Tata Kinge. 

(First Published in The RECORDER Newspaper,Cameroon,of September 15,2014)

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