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South Sudan steps up the fight against HIV/AIDS

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By James Gatdet Dak

September 6, 2008 (JUBA) — The Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) has passed a resolution to streamline HIV/AIDS programs into all the Line Ministries and independent Commissions as well as at the state levels.

The institutions were directed per the resolution passed by the Council of Ministers on Friday, chaired by the GoSS President Salva Kiir Mayardit, to establish their respective HIV/AIDS departments or units within their ministries and commissions to promote awareness campaigns about the disease among the civil servants, etc.

The memo, which was presented to the Cabinet by the Vice President, Riek Machar Teny and assisted by the Chairperson of the Southern Sudan HIV/AIDS Commission, Bellario Ahoy Ngong, also called for partnership with civil society organizations as well as private sector in stepping up the fight against the disease.

The resolution also resolved that a curriculum would be developed by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to incorporate HIV/AIDS awareness programs into education system from primary to university levels in the South.

Ngong, who enlightened the Cabinet about the danger posed by HIV/AIDS as millions of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees return from northern Sudan and the neighboring countries, said majority of the population in Southern Sudan are ignorant about the looming disease.

He appealed to the government to collectively fight against the disease and not to leave it to his HIV/AIDS Commission and the Ministry of Health to fight it alone.

The HIV/AIDS Commission Chairperson advised that every one needs to know his or her HIV/AIDS status through voluntary testing centers available, and he commended the exemplary lead taken by the GoSS Vice President when he publicly got tested in the presence of thousands of people at Juba Football Stadium during the launch of the HIV/AIDS awareness campaign last year.

Ngong urged the GoSS Ministers to follow suit in their own private times to demonstrate to the public the importance of testing one’s status.

The resolution also directed for establishment of testing centers at entry points from neighboring countries.

Ngong said the Commission has already developed awareness, preventive and curative programs for the disease which need to be supported and explained to the populace throughout the region.

(ST)

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