CONGO: Government launches national HIV/AIDS council
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
NAIROBI, 25 July (PLUSNEWS) - The government of the Republic of Congo launched on Thursday its National Council for the Fight Against AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases, with President Denis Sassou-Nguesso serving as the group's president.
In a statement, the government said that the inauguration of the council provided "irrefutable proof" of the country's commitment at the highest levels to "refuse fatalism and to offer a better future to the children of the Congo".
Speaking during a ceremony in the capital, Brazzaville, Sassou-Nguesso called on the Congolese to modify their "mentality and behaviour" in an effort to fight the disease.
"All forces must be mobilised in synergy so as to preserve that which is dearest to us all: life," he said. "Men, women, children and the elderly; let us firmly and faithfully declare that HIV/AIDS will not be transmitted by any of us."
During a recent seminar, Health Minister Alain Moka said that despite the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the country, the level of medical treatment available was lagging far behind other nations.
About 10 percent of the country's population of 3.1 million may be infected, with about 300 people newly infected each day nationwide. However, only about 100 people with HIV/AIDS had access to antiretroviral therapy, Moka said.
He said despite efforts to contain the crisis, such as the provision of mobile treatment centres in the cities of Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire, as well as projects to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, patient care nationwide was woefully inadequate.
Monthly antiretroviral treatment for an HIV/AIDS patient in the ROC costs about 350,000 francs CFA (US $619) - roughly equal to the national average annual income.
Among other council officials will be Moka and Finance Minister Rigobert Roger Andely, serving as first and second vice-presidents.