Home | News    Thursday 3 December 2009

Western Equatoria commemorates Worlds Aids Day

By Richard Ruati

December 2, 2009 (YAMBIO) – Thousands of Western Equatorians on Tuesday gathered in the capital of Western Eqautoria State (WES) to commemorate the World Aids day, as the prevalence of HIV/AIDs is on the increase in the region.

JPEG - 106.2 kb
A girl taking part in a march during the celebration of World Aids day in Yambio on Tuesday 1, 2009 (photo by Gift Friday)

The Aids day came amid recent studies that indicate a rising number of HIV and Aids cases in the region.

Also a hospice in WES once again commemorated World AIDS Day by hosting a memorial services to mourn those who had lost their lives to HIV/AIDS.

World AIDS Day began in Yambio the WES’s capital with a hearing of messages from the HIV/AIDS victims.

Students, the Religious groups, people living with HIV and AIDS and local NGOs, participated in discussions on issues such as public uncertainty over the rules and position of the SSAC.

Western Equatoria is home to many people living with HIV but they are offered little access to support services and discrimination and stigma play a big role in many of their lives. The state has few CD4 testing facilities despite records confirming many cases of HIV.

The poor availability of subsidized anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) has also caused a great deal of concern among people living with HIV, some of whom voiced these concerns during the Aids Day in Yambio.

Speaking during the Occasion in Yambio freedom square, DR Bilario , who also represented the Vice president of the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) ,conveyed the apology for the delay from Dr. Riek Machar to attend the important function due to his other official commitments.

However, Dr. Bilario expressed his happiness with the crowded citizens in Yambio ever since SSAC was established 4 years ago, “I have never seen such a crowd honoring the Aids day."

He stressed that, "the War against HIV is like any other war fought in the World, therefore SSAC in its determination to attain Victory is involved in manufacturing of weapons against the disease and 16 Million American dollars has been earmarked for the battle.”

He added that despite the efforts being done by the Government of Southern Sudan there is still high magnitude of HIV/AIDS in South Sudan due to low knowledge of the deadly disease, it continues border movements, risk life styles, polygamy amongst others therefore more efforts need to be exerted to fight the stigma only through leadership styles.

Dr Bilario asserted that the Ministry of Health GOSS will soon establish ARV’s in Yambio and provide two testing to WES, as it has become a priority of GOSS due to high rate of the disease in Western Equatoria State.

"Let us all together fight HIV/ AIDS from Southern Sudan," appealed Dr Bilario.

In addition, the Acting governor of WES Col Joseph Ngere Paciko added that, “the three enemies of WES are HIV, Ambororo and the LRA rebels from neighboring Uganda.

Col. Ngere appealed to the SSAC Chairperson include programs for the infected people to move in all the ten states of Southern Sudan with their testimonies as they carry positive messages.

Speaking during the occasion Grace Datiro who acted as minister of Health stressed that “the state ministry of health is highly engaged in intensive awareness and behavior changes as part of [our] responsibilities to fight the killer disease.”

"According to world framework which done in Geneva last October, it is the mandate and concern of GOSS to advocate for the fight against HIV/AIDS in Southern Sudan," Datiro added.

She appreciated the international Donors for their support in the provision of testing machine in the state and free ARV’s to patients which has reduced the transport cost to neighboring Uganda.

She also thanked the Christian brothers and Comboni sisters of Nzara for the devotion of their meager resources to support the HIV victims.

She revealed that, "out of the total infected people, about 4,661 are women and girls."

The Director of South Sudan AIDS Commission in WES Mrs. Jane Bangbe appreciated the GOSS for its unwavering support to the badly affected state of WES.

She pointed out that, "the infected people are under the umbrella of state," adding that, “the current statistics of infected people in WES has reached 7,622 positively living with HIV/AIDS positively.

The State Aids Commission is seeking help from GOSS and international organizations in the State to come up with income generating activities to help the Victims and to expand the program in other counties.

(ST)