Tuesday, June 18, 2013 06:45
UNAIDS, FAO Give To AIDS Support Group
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Liberia today donated an assortment of vegetable production inputs including tools, fertilizers, and short-cycled seeds to the ELWA HIV/AIDS Support Group Agriculture Project at ELWA Hospital near Monrovia.
The UNAIDS Country Co-ordinator in Liberia Mr David Chipanta, speaking during the presentation, stressed the importance of food security and good nutrition as “critical support components of HIV prevention as well as for care and treatment of people living with HIV.”
He stated that Nutrition and Food Security are critical enablers of the HIV response just as Human Rights and Gender Equality. Food and Nutrition is just as important as the health activities in responding against AIDS.
Mr. Chipanta said the lack of food security can lead people to engage in unsafe lifestyles and other factors that increase people's vulnerability to HIV such as exchanging sex for food or adopting transactional sex as a survival strategy. He said the assistance from UNAIDS and FAO will enable the beneficiaries grow and eat nutritious food sustainably.
Regarding UNAIDS vision, Mr Chipanta disclosed that the organization's vision has changed and was now focusing on the three zeros: zero new infections, zero AIDS-related deaths, and zero AIDS-related discrimination.
Meanwhile, FAO's Country Representative Mr Jean-Alexandre Scaglia has called for the sourcing of more support for people living with HIV/AIDS in Liberia. He said FAO is also working to increase recognition of the importance of good nutrition for people living with HIV/AIDS and to help households improve nutrition levels by themselves. The FAO Country Representative indicated that “The participatory nutrition approach promoted by FAO together with UNAIDS includes the joint development of local household food and nutrition strategies by the different stakeholders.” He further highlighted the negative impact HIV if not addressed can play on households and agrarian economies including that of Liberia.
He stated Mrs. Deborah Dahn Parker, Manager of the Support Group Agriculture Project based in Mount Barclay, Montserrado County, praised the UNAIDS and FAO for the inputs. “I am very happy to see FAO and UNAIDS to support what we are doing. The crops from the farm are not for sale. They are for the support of the people living with AIDS. Please continue to help us, “she concluded.
Joe-Joe Baysah, President of the Liberia people Living with HIV expressed gratitude to FAO and UNAIDS for supporting People Living with HIV in Liberia to improve their food security and enhance uptake and adherence to HIV treatment.
National AIDS Commission Executive Director Dr. Ivan Camanor lauded the UNAIDS and FAO gesture, adding “NAC's response is not to go alone but to team up with everyone” in the provision of support. He also underscored the relevance of nutrition to the treatment and care of people living with HIV/AIDS. “Nutrition is life. If you don't have nutrition, then you don't have life. Medication doesn't work if you don't have food and good nutrition and this where the UNAIDS / FAO help is very necessary.”
The ELWA Hospital Administrator, Rev. Freeman Garway, applauded FAO and UNAIDS for their donation to the ELWA Support Group of People Living with HIV agricultural project. The Support Group Agriculture Project (SGAP), located in Mount Barclay, about 25 miles from Monrovia, supports 300 people living with HIV/AIDS, under the auspices of ELWA Hospital and the Liberia Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS. The SGAP operates an 8-acre farmland with 13 committed farm workers including eight women and five men.