By ELIZABETH VUVU
THE National Government’s funding for HIV/AIDS awareness should now be directed to churches to take the lead role in the fight against the deadly disease, church representative in the Rabaul joint district planning and budget priorities committee Rev Nakikus Billie said.
The call was made after statistics revealed that the number of new HIV cases in the East New Britain (ENB) province for last month exceeded the total number of cases last year.
“It is now evident that despite the vast amount of money pumped into non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community groups to address the issue, there is virtually no impact.
“More and more cases are being detected daily in the province.
“Those infected with HIV continue to spread the virus regardless of their positive status,” he said.
Rev Billie said almost everyone, whether infected by the virus or not, belonged to a church group.
The church network is very well established in the provinces and should now be fully utilised to help the government fight the disease, he said.
“The disease is here to stay and while statistics have proven that the mediums currently being used to do awareness are failing miserably, the churches should now be given the responsibility to prove God’s power to address the issue,” he said.
Rev Billie said churches had programmes for the different target groups.
These include women’s groups, youth groups and children ministry groups, he said.
If these groups received more funding, we could create more varied activities in a bid to integrate moral discipline lessons into their programmes.
“Only when people are God fearing that they would refrain from pursing earthly pleasures which lead to acquiring the disease,” Rev Billie said.
Rev Billie blamed the district AIDS councils for not performing.
This is what has caused the high increase in the disease in ENB, he said.
He called on the provincial AIDS council to be serious in their efforts to contain the spread of AIDS.
He suggested that they report AIDS statistics by region regularly so it could be determined which district AIDS committees were not performing.
Last week, National AIDS council chairman, Sir Peter Barter, said PNG had come a long way in addressing issues relating to AIDS.
A youth debate on AIDS would be held in April , Sir Peter said.