NIGERIA HIV/AIDS NEWS
HIV/AIDS:Law maker laments awareness level
February 24, 2006 :: Samuel Oyadongha Vanguard,Lagos
Bayelsa State house of assembly committee chairman on health, Mr. Opusiri Otobo, has expressed concern on the poor level of awareness among rural dwellers in the predominantly riverine state on HIV/AIDS. Speaking in Yenagoa at a one day HIV/AIDS Advocacy seminar organised by the Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (PPFN) in conjunction with Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) for all stakeholders noted with sadness that most of the awareness workshops and seminars are limited to the state capitals with the rural communities excluded. The lawmaker who had to abandon the South-South zone public hearing on the review of the nation constitution holding in Port Harcourt to attend the workshop while commending the organizers of the seminar said, "I want to observe that the level of ignorance among our people in the rural communities in the state is very high due to lack of sensitization programmes at the grassroots. Most of the HIV/AIDS awareness workshops and seminar are organized in Yenagoa to the exclusion of the rural population." Lamenting the debilitating effect of the scourge on the nation productive forces, the lawmaker noted that the most recent sentinel survey on the scourge in Nigeria revealed that 3.5million Nigerians are currently living with the HIV/AIDS, the third highest number in the world after India and South Africa. He however expressed optimism that the new initiative, "my choice" would make a difference by taking the campaign to the rural communities in the state. He also decried the comatose state of the health sector said, "Access to health care is limited, quality of health services and facilities still very low, health care facilities at all levels are either dilapidated or dysfunctional. The health referral consumers are disillusioned and dissatisfied with the general inaccessibility and low quality of health care. He commended the SPDC and the Planned Parent Federation of Nigeria (PPFN) for organising the workshop but called for expansion of the scope of coverage of the HIV/AIDS awareness initiative to cover more communities in the state.