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PNG facing HIV/AIDS epidemic, says Kanawi

Papua New Guinea is facing an HIV/AIDS epidemic, says a consultant to the National Aids Council (NAC) secretariat.

Also, a former director of the secretariat, Wep Kanawi said the prevalence rate has gone beyond two per cent, which, under the United Nations AIDS definition, means that PNG is now known as en epidemic country.

Kanawi blamed the increase on lack of awareness and prevention programmes for HIV and AIDS in the country due to the amalgamation of the secretariat and the Department of Health.

He said due to the increase, the government has rescinded its earlier decision to amalgamate the secretariat, and the NAC secretariat will revert to being a standalone entity.

According to Kanawi, this will allow it to carry out its legal duties and responsibilities as spelled out under the HIV and AIDS Prevention Management Act to allow for more intervention programs to be designed and rolled out nationwide.

To begin this, roll out programme, an understanding (MoU) is expected to be signed soon between the NAC Secretariat and West New Britain Province to bring back HIV and AIDS awareness prevention programmes.

A team from the NAC Secretariat has been in Kimbe holding consultations with the West New Britain provincial administration and the provincial health authority to develop the MoU.

The MoU is expected to be signed between the two parties during the departmental heads and provincial administrators meeting in Kimbe at the end of this month.

Kanawi said: “We’re working with the provincial administration and PHA because it still has its structure in place and it’s just a matter of dusting and polishing all that up and fixing the squeaky areas to allow it to settle down and operate again.

“We can use that and negotiate similar arrangements with other provinces, and to allow them to see what’s happening on the ground in West New Britain,” he said.

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