The voice of the private sector’s response to HIV&AIDS and other health matters, Nigerian Business Coalition Against AIDS (NiBUCAA) has staged its maiden AIDS Walk to commemorate 2018 World AIDS Day.

The walk which was held in Lagos attracted significant representation and involvement from member companies including the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, Managing Director, Total E&P Nigeria Limited, Nicolas Terraz, partners and residents.

The walk commenced from Costain Bus Stop and terminated at the National Stadium, Surulere where NiBUCAA member companies and partners harped on the importance of collective efforts to eliminate HIV&AIDS.

Speaking during the event, Executive Committee Chairman NiBUCAA, Dr. Shaibu Musa noted: “The 2018 World AIDS Day is particularly significant. This year’s commemoration is the 30th edition of the international day set aside to raise awareness and ignite conversations on the scourge and effects of HIV&AIDS in communities and workplaces. The day demands attention and support from everyone, from government to business establishments, citizens and the media.

“As the voice of the private sector’s response to HIV&AIDS and allied health issues, NiBUCAA through the support of member companies commenced the commemoration with a conversation with the press on Monday 26th November, 2018. At the session, we intimated the media on providing HIV&AIDS Testing and Counselling (HCT) services to 10,000 Lagos residents. I am delighted to inform you that the acceptance and statistics from the designated centres have been impressive so far. The free HCT services will end on Wednesday December 5th, 2018. Residents are enjoined to use this opportunity to know their HIV status in line with the 90-90-90 benchmark of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV&AIDS.”

Dr. Musa added that collaborative efforts and increased investments in awareness, provision of HCT services and antiretroviral therapy (ART) to infected persons would help to reduce the country’s HIV&AIDS burden.

“The theme of this year’s commemoration, Know Your Status, is a call to action. Although efforts are being made to make antiretroviral therapy (ART) available to affected pregnant women, we are optimistic that improved investments in awareness and getting citizens to know their HIV status would help to reduce the country’s HIV&AIDS burden. HCT services should be made accessible to every citizen just as antiretroviral therapy (ART) should be within the reach of infected persons. “

Assistant Director, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Mr. Raheem Mohammed lauded NiBUCAA for sustaining engagements with the private sector whilst calling for sustained political will to deepen the response to HIV&AIDS.

“NACA appreciates NiBUCAA on several efforts in strengthening engagement with the private sector in Nigeria in order to enhance domestic funding for HIV for a more sustainable response.

“The gap in HIV diagnosis is a major limitation for our HIV programme and for the country to achieve the 90-90-90 targets. There are several opportunities and innovative technologies to expand access to HIV testing which will require a sustained political will for funding and investment.”

Mr. Mohammed added that the launch of the HIV Trust Fund would help to bridge the gap in accessing antiretroviral therapy for Persons living with HIV (PLHIV).

Commenting on the presentation of awards to member companies for contributing to community health and development of the coalition, Executive Secretary NiBUCAA, Gbenga Alabi stated the coalition would continue to innovate and seek ways to support government’s efforts in improving the wellbeing of the citizenry.

“2019 will be a proactive year for the coalition. We will expand our focus to reach out to more workplaces and business host communities. This will help to complement government’s efforts and boost the socio-economic advancement of the country.”

Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Total Exploration & Production Nigeria Limited, Access Bank Plc and Dangote Foundation were rewarded at the event.