Somaliland: Poverty and Discrimination Causes New HIV/Aids Infections
|Saturday, 12 January 2013 22:00|
By: Liban H Rabi & Yusuf M Hasan
Hargeisa (THT) - Proper Welfare to people living with HIV/Aids is the best way of deterring new infections in the country.
women living with HIV/Aids have asked the government to enhance the support of those infected and affected by the virus as prelude to reducing the growing rate of new infections reported which stands at around 58 on a monthly basis.
The plea was made by Ms Hodan Ibrahim and Hodan Dahir during a visit to the Dawan Media Group offices in Hargeisa where they informed that they are both infected and mothers who are disturbed by the increasing number of reported new infections in the country.
The two who informed that poverty among people infected with Aids and the prevalent massive discrimination practiced by the community against PLWAs needs urgent redress thus reduce the ever increasing number of new infections in the country.
"Poverty and discrimination pushes PLWAs to engage in acts that exacerbate new infections nationwide" said MS Dahir
While justifying her argument Ms Dahir a mother of two and a member of a local Community based organization fronted by PLWAs in Hargeisa informed that when she was diagnosed as HIV positive a three years ago she was registered as PLWA #468 while a recent visit to the hospital revealed that current registration at the Hargeisa group hospital shows over 5000 infected.
While terming proper welfare and cessation of discrimination as the only remedy against new HIV infections Ms Hodan Ibrahim the other infected single mother of six said "I'm sure that HIV/AIDS will affect every household in the country if our officials don't act now"
She further argued that the government ruled by President Ahmed Mohamed Mahmud Silanyo which knows how to solve conflicts between clans can easily solve the current trend as pertains to the livelihoods of people living with Aids as well reverses the prevalent high rate of new infections nationwide.
The mother of six pleaded with all stakeholders to act informing saying, "we can't get any jobs among the society, and we are very weak and poor people who are enable to provide for our children'
The two infected mothers who spoke on behalf of their group pointed out that the First Lady Hon Amina Haji Mahmud "Amina Waris" was their best ambassador as she is the mother of the nation and the country,
While addressing the first lady Ms Amina Weris the two infected mothers said "you are the one who can feel our problems, we want to you to play a great role for in order to assist we feed our children as well as prevent the increasing spread of HIV/AIDS in the country".
While thanking the PLWA organization of RAHMA and Talowadag coalition two mothers castigated the Somaliland National Aids Commission-SOLNAC for failure to fulfill its mandate thus the lack of welfare to those infected and affected by HIV/Aids as well failure to address discrimination and the spread of new infections.
"The head of SOLNAC is completely unresponsive to HIV/Aids related issues in the country" Said Ms Ibrahim
They also thanked the Committee for the promotion of good deeds and deterrence of vice, a nationwide religious body which they termed as having been very helpful especially with psychosocial support.
On the other hand the SOLNAC Director of Admin Mr. Abdikarin Ahmed Hinif whom we queried on the accusations of disregard by his body said SOLNAC always assist people living with HIV/AIDS in all parts of the country with favour.
He informed that SOLNAC plays a great part in the ensuring availability and distribution of the ARV drugs used by the HIV/Aids infected while trying to harmonize activities of the various local and international organizations whose activities are geared towards supporting PLWAs.
Mr. Hinif also pointed out that SOLNAC is at the fore front of ensuring the welfare of the PLWAs and their families through the solicitation and subsequent distribution of food and other donations.
Though the national HIV/Aids prevalence is 1.3% the Somaliland National Aids Commission-SOLNAC reports that the country records an average of 58 new HIV/Aids infections on a monthly basis.
According to the Executive director of SOLNAC Mohamed Dahir these figures are derived from Voluntary Counseling and Testing-VCT that have seen an intensified campaign with a specific focus on males since most of the data has always from women who secure the services during pre-natal check-ups.
Since inception in 2004 of the free VCT services that are provided in most public heath institutions in the country 1,572 case of HIV/Aids infection have been discovered out 20,738 citizens tested. Of the 20,737 voluntarily tested persons 13,271 were women who incidentally have the lion's share of infections.
During commemorations of the world Aids day on December 1st 2012 whose theme was "Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero deaths from AIDS-related illness. Zero discrimination." The following proclamations were made
the government reiterates its commitment to ensure effective leadership and support in halting and reversing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the country- Dr Hussein Hog, minister of health
58 new infections monthly-SOLNAC
Information ministry committed to continued HIV/Aids awareness- Mohamed Osman Mire Sayid
We plead for none discrimination of people living with Aids-Amina (PLWA)
SAHAN is committed to the zero tolerance on discrimination of PLWAs- Anwar A Warsame
Speaking on behalf of people living with Aids-PLWAs at the WAD 2012 function Miss Amina who is herself infected and the chairperson of Rahma a local organization formed by PLWAs said that those infected or affected by HIV/Aids continue to encounter massive discrimination from members of society especially the youth.
Pleading to the youths to stop this discrimination Miss Amina (not her real name) who is the leader of Al-Rahma a local NGO whose membership of is of 36 women infected with HIV/Aids, said, "We request the youth to stop mistreating us because we are your sisters who happen to have the misfortune of being infected with HIV/Aids"
While commenting the Somaliland HIV/Aids Network-SAHAN for continued support since inception Miss Amina lamented the lack of support from donor organizations who pour millions of dollars into other local organizations dealing with Aids while neglecting Al-Rahma which is the best conduit for such support.
She also wondered why Talowadag a local organizations that supports PLWAs provides its beneficiaries with half the food supplied by donor organizations, while wondering where the other half is used for or given to. She also revealed that the WFP rations availed PLWAs at the group hospital are always expired and thus not consumable.
In conclusion the Al-Rahma organization said that People living with HIV/Aids in fully support this year's World Aids day theme of "Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero deaths from AIDS-related illness. Zero discrimination" for the attainment of these objectives is significant as it will lessen the number of Somalilanders who have to persevere the difficulties related to the infection.