As the world marks the 2021 World AIDS Day on Wednesday, TotalEnergies Upstream Nigeria Ltd. have lamented the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, blaming it on negligence and ignorance of the public.
Mr Mike Sangster, Managing Director, TotalEnergies, represented by Mrs Moyo Areola, made the disclosure at the Official Launch of the School-Based Project HIV/AIDS Awareness Campaign for Secondary Schools in Lagos State.
The programme was organised by TotalEnergies Upstream, NAPIMS and Partners – Prime,(formerly Peteobras), Sapetro and CNOO.
The day’s event targeted the Mende Senior High School, Mende Junior Secondary School, Immaculate Heart Senior High School, Immaculate Heart Comprehensive Junior School, all in Maryland, Lagos State.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that World AIDS Day was first observed in 1988 to bring attention to the HIV epidemic, to unite to show support for people living with HIV and to remember those who have died from AIDS-related illnesses.
The theme for 2021 is : “End Inequalities. End AIDS. End Pandemic”
According to the UNAIDS, the 2021 theme joins a growing list of challenges that World AIDS Day has alerted people to globally.
Sangster said: “Over the years, HIV/AIDS has become a major global health crisis.
“The disease has also become a real development challenge , especially for developing nations where young people who are the most productive segment of the population, remain at risk.
“It is quite disturbing that, up till now, prevalence rate is high due to negligence and ignorance of the public.
“TotalEnergies, as a company, makes efforts to identify with our host communities and with Nigeria as a whole.
“Not only to give back to society in fulfillment of our Corporate Social Responsibility obligations but because we also truly believe that when Nigeria prospers, our company prospers.”
According to him, to reduce the impact of the disease, the organisation joins the United Nations and World Health Organisation as part of a broad-based coalition leading the fight against HIV/AIDS.
“It is for this reason that TotalEnergies Upstream Nigeria Ltd. extends its Annual HIV/Awareness Campaign to Secondary Schools.
”The youth are mainly vulnerable to HIV infection , especially where they are ignorantly and engage in risky behaviours such as drug abuse and illicit exposures either by informed choices or rape, cult activities, blood rituals etc.
“According to the WHO, prevention is not only better than cure, but also cheaper and prevents complications.
“I, therefore, encourage everyone here today to take the message from this campaign to your homes, friends, families, schoolmates and communities.
“HIV/AIDS is real and will continue to destroy our communities if we do not adopt behavioural changes that prevent its spread.
“Ending HIV pandemic is indeed everyone’s voice,” he said.
Mrs Clementina Arubi, representing the Group General Manager of NAPIMS, Bala Wunti, emphasised the existence of HIV/AIDS and its devastating impacts.
“We have come to let you know that HIV is real. Anybody can get HIV. It is not only adults.
“We want to ensure that many Nigerian youths as possible are aware of this disease and how to guard themselves.
“We believe that students of your age need to be aware of the disease.
“This is because we know with knowledge comes the ability to take informed decisions to protect yourselves, families and your communities against HIV/AIDS,” he said.
Mr Joseph Fatokun, Principal, Mende, Senior High School, thanked the organisations for putting together the sensitisation awareness programme.
Miss Precious Omoyibo, a JSS1 student of Immaculate Junior Comprehensive High School, Maryland, told NAN that she was happy that the programme was organised to enlighten them on HIV/AIDS.
According to her she had gained a lot of knowledge from the information passed across..
Also, Mr Okikiola Ibrahim, JSS 1 student of Mende Junior High School, Maryland, also commended the awareness programme.
He enjoined young children to guard themselves against actions that could lead to getting HIV/AIDS.
NAN also reports that the event featured drama performances while the bodies that organised the programmed presented some kits to the institutions. (NAN) www.nannews.ng