By Umar Faruk Birnin Kebbi
The newly inaugurated executives of the National Youth Network on HIV/AIDS, Population and Development in Nigeria (NYNETHA), in Kebbi, has advocated for increase of state government budgetary release for HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria in the state.
The new state Coordinator of the network, Malam Ishaka Umar, advocated the budget increase shortly after the inauguration of the new executives in Birnin Kebbi.
He said,” The inauguration today marks the beginning of a new dawn in our journey as the state chapter of NYNETHA.
“Our emergence as new excos signifies a paradigm shift and reawakening of the network in the state.
“As for the task ahead, we would vigorously advocate for the increase of government budgetary release for the three targeted diseases of HIV, TB and Malaria in the state.”
According to him, the Network would deploy strategies through collaboration, partnership, advocacy and lobby in order to achieve its mandate.
Umar said that the Network would give emphasis on enlightenment campaign through media, social media and eye- ball to eye-ball meetings and engagement with traditional and religious leaders to ensure ‘test before marriage’ , among others.
“NYNETHA would collaborate with the relevant HIV, TB and Malaria programmes and implementing organisation on this journey and seek their support where necessary,” he said.
The coordinator commended the outgoing executives for their support and mentorship as well as their contributions to the development of the Network in the state.
In her remarks, Hajiya Zarau Ahmad, the National Auditor of the Network and also youth representatives at the Nigeria Global fund CCM said that NYNETHA is the umbrella body, representing Nigeria youths, in the planning and implementation of multi-sectoral HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria response.
She said,” The organisation’s programme aims at combating HIV/AIDS and promote issues of population and sustainable development through active participation of youths with one collective voice.”
Ahmad said that NYNETHA reached adolescents and young people in Lagos with comprehensive information on HIV/AIDS, condoms distribution across the states, HIV Smart Testing Kits and partnered on provision of youths friendly services.
“Increasing youths’ understanding of HIV; what contributes to HIV; prevention and treatment options are crucial to controlling the HIV epidemic.
“We deliver basic and factual information on HIV/AIDS, the benefits of HIV counselling, and testing to know their HIV health status,” she said.
In his remarks, Alhaji Usman Mogoro, the Programme Manager of the State Agency for Control of HIV/AIDS (SACA),who inaugurated the exectives, commended the NGO for its efforts in making sure the HIV/AIDS reduced to the lowest level.
Earlier, the Outgoing State Coordinator of the Network, Alhaji Nasiru Fakai, urged the exco not to rely on local grants and explore opportunities for the betterment and progress of the network mandate.
“There is the need to support SACA to work as an agency inline with mandate it was established in the state.
” SACA is not funded adequately for many years and our priority is to make sure the agency stands on its own,” he said.
He called on the Kebbi State Government to ensure that SACA is established as an Agency in line with the law that established it with all the structures put in place and a Board that will be set up by the State Governor.
Fakai explained that one of the challenges the Network faced had been funding, enjoining the network members to have accountability mechanism and invest heavily to align in the mandate of the of the State and National policies on HIV programming.
“I call on all partners to recognize the fact that young people are the most affected group on terms of the three diseases of AIDS, TB and Malaria.
“There is the need to ensure that everyone is working with young people, recognizing them as partners and leaders in carrying out interventions that affect them,” he said.