11th May, 2012
Leading telecommunication services provider, Airtel Nigeria, and the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) have announced a joint initiative aimed at stemming the prevalence of the Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and HIV in the country.
Announcing the partnership at a press conference in Abuja, yesterday, the Director General of National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Professor John Idoko, said the body is now better equipped to tackle the spread of AIDS with the support of Airtel, which provided a telecoms platform at the NACA call centre with 100 lines for the project.
On his part, the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Airtel Nigeria, Rajan Swaroop, stated the company’s commitment to contributing to the well-being of Nigerians, particularly its customers.
According to him, “this partnership provides us with a new opportunity to serve our customers in a fresh and different way, especially in the area of quality health care delivery. We have partnered with NACA with the objective of improving the delivery of health services in Nigeria”.
Swaroop pledged that Airtel will work closely with NACA to send information via a short code on the deadly scourge to our customers nationwide in addition to providing access for people to speak to call agents at the NACA call centre,” he said.
In line with the terms of the partnership, Airtel has helped to equip the national call centre with toll free lines which will enable Nigerians irrespective of their location access accurate information on HIV/AIDS.
The centre, which will be officially commissioned by the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, on Thursday, 27 April, will provide information and counselling on the disease in the English, Pidgin English, Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo languages.
NACA’s Director General explained that Nigerians can access information on the disease by dialing 6222, adding that the centre would both serve as information hub and public enlightenment platform that is carefully designed to grow the knowledge of HIV and AIDS among the people.
Idoko added: “Studies show that only 36 per cent of young people in urban areas have correct knowledge of the condition while knowledge is extremely poor in rural areas. We have made a giant stride in the fight but we need to intensify campaign and reduce the prevalence rate, which dropped to 4.1 percent from 6.0 percent in 2001. We still have about 3.1 million people living with HIV and there is a danger of potential increase.
“Forty-two per cent of transmission occurs between people with low perception, who engage in unprotected sex. We are looking to a future where the call centre can be expanded to other health issues related to HIV, like TB, family planning, malaria, diabetes”, he said.
The director general said Nigeria is full of young people who would soon come of age for sexual activities and that a strong education programme was required.
He added that the government was committed to putting more people on drugs.