By, Nick Dugba
Civil Societies in Taraba State under the auspices of Civil Society for HIV and AIDS in Nigeria (CISHAN), has given the Taraba State AIDS Control Agency( TACA), between now and February 2017, to prevail on the government to constitute a Board for the agency or risk getting its Director General removed.
CISHAN noted that the agency has been operating with only a Director General, without a Board, which it described as improper.
Speaking during the World AIDS Day symposium with the theme “World AIDS Day: Hands on for HIV/AIDS”, held Saturday at the Trade Fair Ground in Jalingo, the Coordinator of CISHAN, Taraba state, Sam Tari, was concerned about the fact that funds were not released for the marking of the event in the State.
He stressed that Taraba only had civil society organizations working and not donors which the State needed in order to fight the disease. He therefore stated that the donors were needed back and called for the constitution of the Board since the donors could not operate without the full constitution of TACA.
Tari, who was visibly emotionally charged, narrated to the audience, the challenges civil society organizations were passing through in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the State.
He advised government against allocating the new TACA office to other government departments and that the complex should be wholly meant for TACA and Civil Society Organizations involved in fighting HIV/AIDS, in order to ensure closer collaboration.
According to Tari, should the Board of TACA not constituted by the said deadline, the group would stage a protest and ensure that the Director General of TACA was removed.
Speaking during the occasion, the NACA/ SPIU representative in the state, Dr Abe Agbu, urged Tarabans to go for test for HIV and that if any was found positive,he or she could access medication at designated clinics across the state, saying Taraba and Abia States were been funded specifically by the Federal Government in the area of medication.
Also speaking, State Coordinator of Network of People Living With HIV/AIDS, (NEPWHAD) Layidi Johnson, decried the habit of making HIV/AIDS patients pay for services that were ordinarily suppose to be free of charge. She said if that continued, those carriers might be forced to abandoned treatment and go on spreading the disease in the society. She therefore advised that care and support should be intensified by government.
Earlier on, Taraba State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Lois Emmanuel, advised the people to go for test on their HIV status and that those who were positive should not spread the disease, describing such acts as ‘wicked’.
The event had the State Commissioner of Health in attendance and other stakeholders as well, however the turnout for the event was poor as some stakeholders attributed it to poor organization, lack of funds and attitude of TACA.
This reporter learnt that the civil society organizations had to mobilize funds to ensure that the event was held.