By Goth Mohamed Goth
Somaliland National Youth Umbrella (SONYO) in collaboration with OXFAM NOVIB jointly unveiled a pioneering study on HIV/AIDS Awareness among the youth the first of its kind ever in the country yesterday in a well-attended ceremony held in Hotel Mansour, Hargeisa.
Attending the HIV/AIDS report launching event were government officials, local and INGO’s representatives, civil societies, women, youth groups and members of the public.
Somaliland National Youth Umbrella (SONYO) together with international Aid organization OXFAM NOVIB this year initiated a nationwide survey intended to measure how young people in Somaliland make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual and reproductive health and also their understanding the impact of HIV/AIDS on the youth and families, disease transmission, prevention and the negative stigma associated with the disease.
Hon Mubarak Ismael Thani, Chairman of Somaliland National Youth Umbrella (SONYO) speaking at the event began by saying, “I am happy to say that SONYO and OXFAM NOVIB have jointly completed this important study which aims to save the lives of many young people who are at risk for HIV infection through raising awareness among the young people in the country who are often left behind in policy processes and decision-making when it comes to national HIV responses.
“Much effort has being utilized in raising awareness and informing people of the dangers posed by the killer disease and reduce the misconceptions and fears about the illness; we hope this report on shall provide an opportunity unlike any other to acknowledge and strengthen the expertise, experience and the leadership of young people to comprehensively and efficiently address the untold barriers in the fight against this epidemic,” He said.
The Deputy Minister of Social affairs and Gender Hon Shuri Hariir speaking at the event said, “I would like to use this opportunity to express gratitude to both SONYO and OXFAM NOVIB for investing their resources in this vital report, secondly i would also like declare time has come for us to adopt and implement efficient strategies to inform the youth in Somaliland who continue to be the population most vulnerable to contracting HIV.
Hon Shukri Hariir lastly stated, “The current government is committed now than never to lower the rate of new HIV infections in the country through a national comprehensive coordinated HIV/AIDS roadmap.
Prof Abdi Ali, the head of Somaliland National HIV/AIDS Commission SOLNAC Assessment of the awareness lauded SONYO and OXFAM NOVIB for the HIV/AIDS report saying that it would paves way in educating and raising awareness among the youth, while it’s also important for determining the impact of previous and current awareness programs as well as the need for interventions.
Prof Abdi Ali added, “The good news is the report indicates that almost 85% of the youth in this country knew something about HIV, in other words those who had heard of HIV were more than those who had never had of the disease, which also means a majority of them knew the modes of transmission and more youth also were aware of modes of prevention of HIV/AIDS.
Dr. Ahmed Hashi Oday , Chairman of Somaliland medical practitioners also among the dignitaries speaking at the event gave a brief history of the Killer disease in the country since the first ever case of the disease was reported , he went on to praise the efforts of SONYO and OXFAM NOVIOB in preparing and compiling the report which will in the future be helpful in upgrading their knowledge regarding this scourge and also to increase awareness among the youth while at the same time reducing HIV/AIDS transmission.
Finally the event concluded with the showcasing of the report which took two months to complete and covered all regions of the country and the presentation of the study was by the head of the project SONYO Mr. Khadar Hariir, Mr. Edward and Dr. ABdirahman Geel representing OXFAM NOVIB.