President Jammeh treating one of his patients

(JollofNews) – The United Nations system in the Gambia Tuesday convened a five-hour national consultation on the Catch Up plan for the country.

The consultation is required for the Emergency Plan for West Africa and for the UN Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS for 2018-2021.

“This is a target on how Gambia could also put in place it’s own catch up plan to fast track things,” Sirra Horeja Ndow, UNAIDS country director said.

She said they are fast tracking upto 2020 with hope that when the target is achieved, it can reach 2030.

Alpha Khan, deputy director of National Aids Secretariat said the peak of HIV/AIDS in the Gambia is 1.8% in 25-34 age group.

He said the target is to achieve zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS related deaths and zero stigma and discrimination in the country.

In 2013, UNAids, the joint United Nations programme to combat HIV/Aids, announced it will be closing operations in the Gambia, necessitated by financial constraints but later resumed.

The Gambia is the only country in the West African sub-region that was affected by that decision.

In January 2007, Gambia’s former President Yahya Jammeh, claimed he found cure for HIV/Aids and asthma with natural herbs. He later opened a treatment centre and patients were advised to cease taking their anti-retroviral drugs.

Despite concerns by the World Health Organisation and the United Nations about his use of unscientific treatment that could have dangerous results, including the infection of others by those who thought they had been cured by the method, Mr Jammeh continued with his treatment programme until he was defeated in last December’s election.