Prof. John Idoko
Patrick Ugeh in Abuja
Director-General of National Agency for Control of AIDS (NACA), Prof. John Idoko, has warned that failure to guarantee the rights of the people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) would worsen the situation of the pandemic in the country.
He therefore urged the National Assembly to pass the bill, which had been prepared since 2008, within six months so that the gains already made to check the scourge would not be lost.
According to him, failure to protect the rights of the PLWHA through legislation would lead to increased vulnerability, stigmatisation and discrimination, while hindering effective response to the pandemic. Idoko raised the alarm at a stakeholders meeting on the HIV/AIDS Anti-Stigma bill in Abuja.
While outlining the measures already made to get the rights guaranteed in the law, the NACA boss said, “It has become clear that issues around rights, if not addressed, will ultimately limit the effectiveness of these interventions.
“The Anti-Stigma law seeks to address these issues. Hence NACA’s role in organising this meeting is geared towards coordination of an effective national HIV/AIDS response,” he said. Pointing out that the process of getting HIV/AIDS Anti- Discrimination legislation had been ongoing for about a decade, he said it has recorded some successes and setbacks.
He noted that the House of Representatives passed the law in the last dispensation, but that the process had to start afresh. Seeking the support of the lawmakers for a speedy passage of the anti-discrimination law, he declared:”We must now make it happen.”
He recalled that ECOWAS had visited and presented a minimum framework to NACA and the House of Representatives, which must now be domesticated.