Caritas Nigeria/Caritas International, an NGO, has inaugurated a 21-member champions committee to tackle HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, specifically in the North Central Zone.
The Country Community Mobilisation and Networking Adviser, UNAIDS, Mr Gabriel Undelikwo inaugurated the committee in Akwanga, Nasarawa State, at the end of a two-day training workshop on Pediatric HIV for religious leaders, organised by the NGO.
He inaugurated the committee on behalf of Dr Uche Obodoechina, the Deputy Executive Secretary of Caritas Nigeria.
He said that the aim of the champions committee was to mobilise and educate people in their respective communities on the danger of HIV/AIDS to societal development.
According to him, the committee is also to organise parish pediatric HIV campaign walks or other activities to raise awareness on the needs of children living with HIV/AIDS.
He noted that the work of the committee was also to identify champions at their home diocese and communities and choose influential parishioners who would ensure information dissemination.
“The champion is to make use of different group meetings – priests, members and women organisations of the Catholic Church and other communities to give information about pediatric HIV/AIDS case finding and need for HIV testing.
“Introduce pediatric HIV scientific information to teachers in catholic schools and other communities and lay emphasis on pediatric HIV in premarital courses.
“Introduce pediatric HIV issues in Catholic school assemblies and make use of healthcare workers in parishes to find persons who can support pediatric HIV,” he said.
Obodoechina urged the committee to work with health teams in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in order to keep Caritas Nigeria and Caritas Internationalist informed on the strategies to tackle HIV/AIDS.
He urged them to be up and doing in order to achieve the desired results.
Mr Musa Jere from Ummah National Mosque, Abuja, appreciated the NGO for the training and called for its sustenance.
Mr Jere promised to use the knowledge he acquired to educate his people on the danger of HIV/AIDS and on the need for people to know their status.
The 21 members of the champions committee were selected from over 56 trained Catholic priests, Reverend Sisters and other critical stakeholders.
They were drawn from Kaduna, Nasarawa, Benue states and the FCT, for the workshop.