United Nations staffs in Goma sensitized on HIV prevention
Goma, 14 July, 2016 – MONUSCO’s Lava site compound in the North Kivu Provincial town of Goma provided an ideal setting and a rallying venue for all United Nations agencies in Goma to respond to a litany of challenges in addressing the HIV and AIDS epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This happened on Friday, 8 July, 2016 during the UN CARES activities that brought together dependents of all UN staffs residing in Goma.
Speaking earlier at the event the Chief of HIV/AIDS Section, Madam Dorcella Bazahica, said the occasion was an opportunity to assess the level of HIV prevention carried out so far.
“This assembly will give us the opportunity to exchange ideas, to do the sensitization, and to educate ourselves as well as our families”, she says explaining the importance of doing early HIV test. “There will be voluntary confidential counseling and testing (VCCT) for those who will like to know their HIV status”, she informs. “In this way, we can be able to join hands together and to look forward to the end of the epidemic with hope”.
She also said it was necessary for the Joint United Nations Team on AIDS (JUNTA) to set examples for other decentralized teams to follow. “We expect this team to be a model group that could take the lead in the fight to end HIV by the year 2030”, she concludes.
This ceremony that was organized by MONUSCO and all the agencies of the United Nations system was seen by many as an important reminder that HIV has not gone away. This explains why the HIV/AIDS Section of MONUSCO, during the run-up to this event, saw the need to increase awareness, fight against HIV stigma and discrimination, and improve education and condoms distribution across the Mission area.
The opening speech contained the aspects that saw the need for the UN CARES to share information on health matters and to sensitize UN staffs and their dependents on HIV and AIDS issues. The speech further informed that VCCT were among the services that were to be rendered to the people during the event.
“If staffs of the United Nations system can constitute sensitization teams, then, it is necessary that such sensitizations should begin with us and our families”, the speech reads in part. ”The UN CARES is an opportunity for us to came together as a family”; the speech continues as organizers thanked MONUSCO for providing space for the occasion.
UN CARES provided a platform for people to reunite and to look for ways to fight against HIV. The event also opened a door for UN Women to present their innovative solidarity platform “HeForShe” that calls for gender equality.
Through the UN CARES activities, MONUSCO seeks to encourage social and behaviour change, the fight against stigma and discrimination with comprehensive campaigns that give those living with HIV a voice to bring change and meaning to the lives of others – and also to contribute in HIV prevention.
By Joseph Tabung Banah