By Hassan Zaggi
In an effort to halt the spread of HIV and also ensure those with the disease get the needed treatment, the Gambia has launched a US$22,676,029.12 HIV/AIDS Catch Up Plan.
The plan was launched in the presence of the UNAIDS Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Dr, Djibril Diallo, and UNAIDS Country Office Director for the Gambia, Mrs Sirra Horeja Ndow.
The Gambia HIV/AIDS Catch Up Plan was later presented to the Gambian President, Adama Barrow by Dr Djibril Diallo.
It would be recalled that the West and Central Africa regional Catch Up Plan was developed in the wake of the 2016 United Nations high-level meeting on ending AIDS, where the chairs of the Assemblies of Health Ministers of the Economic Community of West African States and the Economic Community of Central African States, UNAIDS and partners called for an urgent response that supports countries in Western and Central Africa in reaching a trajectory to meet the Fast-Track Targets by 2020.and later endorsed at the African Summit in July 2016.
The total cost of The Gambia Catch up Plan is US$22,676,029.12 with available resources estimated at US$ 5,086,314.31million.
Findings revealed that the funding gap for The Gambia HIV/AIDS Catch Up Plan is US$ 17,589,714.84 million. This amount is expected to close the existing gap to ensure the attainment of 90% of people living with HIV/AIDS know their status, 90% of people living with HIV/AIDS on treatment and 90% of people on treatment virally suppressed and to be on the track to ending AIDS in the Gambia by 2030.
This is even as the Gambian President, Adama Barrow, has expressed his government’s full support to ensuring the effective implementation of the Gambia HIV/AIDS Catch up Plan and the closing of the funding and treatment gap by 2020.
The president also accepted his nomination to be a champion for the campaign for the popularisation of the SDGs using education as an entry point, expressing gratitude to partner with the African Renaissance and Diaspora Network.
The Gambia HIV/AIDS Catch Up Plan, according to experts, not only opens an opportunity to reposition the national HIV/AIDS response but also provides possibilities of mobilizing new funding and partnerships both domestically and from the international community.
“It is also a commitment for renewed efforts to galvanize innovative actions from all segments of Gambian society to put the country on a sustainable path of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.
“Moreover it is an opportunity for policy shifts that will enable the country to tackle many of the sensitive AIDS-related issues touching on certain segments of society, particularly for the PLHIV community and to be integrated in the country efforts of resource mobilization for the new national development plan,” the experts further explained.