Airtel, UNAIDS partner
By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria
The Chief Executive Officer, Airtel Nigeria, Segun Ogunsanya, has explained that the partnership of the telco with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) will allow ample opportunity to further promote its Touching Lives initiative aimed at positively impacting on Nigerians, especially in the area of quality healthcare services delivery.
Ogunsanya who spoke in Lagos during the signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between UNAIDS and Airtel to eliminate Mother-to-Child transmission of HIV in Nigeria, said: “At Airtel, we have a track record of supporting and empowering young people, who are the future leaders of our country. We have adopted and built schools for children; provided several interventions in the area of healthcare for hundreds of kids while our Touching Lives programme has even offered us a more elaborate platform to reach and connect with underprivileged children.
“Indeed, Airtel is intensely interested in impacting society positively as this underscores our corporate philosophy of becoming the most loved brand in the daily lives of Nigerians.”
In his remarks, UNAIDS Country Director for Nigeria and the UNAIDS Focal Point for the Economic Community for West Africa (ECOWAS), Dr. Bilali Camara, said: “Eliminating mother to child transmission of HIV and keeping their mother alive do not only improve the wellbeing of children and their mothers. They impact positively on the general maternal and child survival.”
Speaking on the occasion, the Director General, National Agency for Control of Aids (NACA), Professor John Idoko, commended the telco for its leading role in providing practical, relevant and continuous assistance in the fight against the dreaded HIV/AIDS.
Idoko described Airtel as a trusted, reliable and committed partner that has stood resolutely behind NACA since 2005 when the Agency first launched a call centre to assist people living with HIV/AIDS.
Narrating how Airtel has been supporting NACA, Idoko who was represented by the Director, Resource Mobilisation, NACA, Dr. Emmanuel Alhassan, said: “It was in 2005 when we first partnered with Airtel to activate hotlines (interactive telecommunications platform) with the sole intention of providing both guidance and counseling to Nigerians vis-à-vis HIV/AIDS and other related health issues.
“Back then in 2005, we rolled out what could be termed a pilot National Call Contact Centre. And the experiment was extremely successful: the public literally went agog as feedback/responses poured in on the pilot project.”
“In 2012, Airtel also provided the network backbone for our ultra-modern call centre, which was commissioned by the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan. The facility, which is fitted with toll free lines and has capacity, to process calls from about 30 callers simultaneously is currently offering Nigerians irrespective of their location access to accurate information and benefit from public enlightenment on HIV & AIDS and other diseases such as Tuberculosis and Malaria.”
Idoko also recalled how Airtel ‘painted the town red’ during the 2005 edition of the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA), saying that the telco did not just add immense value to the international conference but made it colourful and classy.
The NACA boss noted that it, therefore, did not come as a surprise when Airtel indicated its interest to partner with UNAIDS to eliminate Mother-to-Child transmission of HIV in Nigeria.
The UNAIDS and Airtel partnership sealed through a Memorandum of Understanding will allow the telco’s subscribers to benefit from information on how and where to access prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV services in Nigeria. The information shall be disseminated through innovative and regular text messages.