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Gov’t’s priority for HIV is above intervention- Wani Igga.

Dr. James Wani Igga speaking during the opening and launching of the National Aids Commision (Photo by Woja Emmanuel Wani)

By Woja Emmanuel Wani

Vice President Dr. James Wani Igga yesterday said the government’s main concern in dealing with HIV cases in the country was beyond involvement in elimination of HIV/AIDS by 2030.

“The challenges of HIV in South Sudan are not just to avoid the spread of the epidemic but also to ensure that people living with HIV/AIDS have the same opportunities as those who are not. They should feel better to themselves, their families and also the country at large,” Dr. Wani said.

The Vice President was speaking during the official opening of the South Sudan Aids Commission’s newly renovated main office and the launching of the National HIV Strategic Plan 2018-2022 in Jebel Korok Yei Road.

He also said that the government will continue to support the National Aids Commission through linking the best international practices to community’s expertise in order to help create innovative and effective solutions for local situations.

Dr. Wani said HIV virus had not been dealt with as a deadly disease and exceptional responses had never been realised in the country.

He said some of the challenges in combating HIV had also been based on the fact that there was little or no proper understanding of how to prevent the contraction of the disease and lack of proper education in creating awareness within the community.

Dr. Wani said that the Aids Commission was also faced with the  issues conceived as short-term crises and lack of long-term funding especial in the area of antiretroviral drugs as well as lack of other medical facilities associated with weak health systems.

At the same function, the Under-Secretary-General and the Executive Director of the United Nations Joint Program on Aids (UNIADS) Mr. Michael Sidibe acknowledged that his journey is not negative to the country and promised to work in collaboration with the National Aids Commission and the Government of South Sudan.

“This journey was not a negative journey, today we are talking about 25,000 or more people on treatment. Few years back we were having less than 30 people in treatment so this a good turn up. We will continue to strengthen our response to HIV prevalence in South Sudan,” Dr. Sidibe said.

He also urged the people in the different communities to avoid stigma discrimination and make sure all persons are protected from violence and exclusion.

The chairperson of the National Aids Commission Dr. Esterena Novello said the government of South Sudan recognized HIV as one of the most formidable challenges in the country.

She thanked the global fund through UNDP for rehabilitating the commission she said was looted during the 2013 conflicts

Dr. Novello called for more funding from donors and implementing partners to transform the lives of the people.

“I urge UNAIDS through the leadership of Michel Sidibe to advocate for increase of resources to enable us implement the country’s national strategic plan to strengthen the availability of strategic information such as aids indicators survey which we have not done before.” she added.

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