The UN Women, UNAIDS and others have called on the newly inaugurated Board of Trustees (BOT) members of Association of Women Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (ASWHAN) to mobilise resources and implement strategies to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

They made the call at a three-day inaugural BOT meeting and resource mobilisation training for management board members and staff on Monday in Abuja.

Ms Patience Ekeoba, the National Programme Officer and Focal Person for HIV/AIDS, UN Women, said that the board members, who have experience on HIV/AIDS, should promote the activities of the association and ensure they became part of decision making in the HIV/AIDS response.

She said ‘we are hoping that the board will be able to drive resource mobilisation because it has been one of the challenges of the association over the years.

‘The board tried a lot in trying to mobilise funds by writing proposals and others in the past. We believe members will be able to bring in their leadership and mobilise fund
ing that they need not just for the national level, but at the state and community levels too.’

Dr Leopold Zekeng, the UNAIDS Country Director, said the inauguration of the BOT would strengthen ASWHAN activities and address the challenges faced by women and girls living with HIV/AIDS.

He said ‘achieving gender equality, advancing women’s empowerment and fulfilling the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls are crucial to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and in ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

‘Four decades of the HIV response heralded significant success, yet, much more is needed, particularly in terms of ensuring women and girls are not left behind.’

He added that by addressing gender inequalities, patriarchy and discrimination, a society where women and girls are less vulnerable to HIV would be created.

The country director reiterated UNAIDS’s commitment to ensure that women and girls have their rights fulfilled and empowered to protect themselves against
HIV with access to treatment, care and support.

On his part, Dr Pat Matemilola, a board member and former Coordinator, Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN), pledged the network’s support to the association and to explore other areas like education, nutrition and others that would promote ASWHAN.

He said ‘the board of trustees will help to broaden views and make ASWHAN not to concentrate too much or narrow the field too much on HIV/AIDS.

‘The fact that ASWHAN is under NEPWHAN has become a limiting factor, so once they are able to break free and launch into other areas that are not strictly HIV, they will make a lot of progress.’

Mrs Esther Hindi-Maliki, the National Coordinator of ASWHAN, said with the inauguration of board members, there would be more engagements and advocacies with partners on various thematic areas, apart from HIV/AIDS.

She said ‘we will mobilise resources because you cannot work without financial and other resources.

‘So, we will look for resources to do ou
r interventions and implementations and hopefully the future of ASWHAN will be bright.

‘And with this Board of Trustees and cooperation of the management will work to ensure that we implement and intensify sensitisation and advocacies with partners.’

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

News Reporter