Kalumbila, December 5, 2019, ZANIS---Kalumbila Town Council Chairperson, Olix Kakwata, says the fight against HIV/AIDS is not only government’s task but also an individual’s responsibility.

Mr Kakwata said this when he graced this year’s World AIDS Day commemorated under the theme: “Communities making a difference-pressing towards ending AIDS”.

He implored the gathering to reflect on this day, saying it provides an opportunity to raise awareness around HIV prevention, testing and treatment as well as to create demand and motivate the public to access these services.

Mr Kakwata said HIV/AIDS is a global public health issue that calls for community action at local level.

“I urge all line ministries, the private sector, civil societies, non-governmental organisations, traditional leaders and leadership at all levels, media houses and indeed members of the public to ensure that no one is left behind in HIV/AIDS response programmes at district level,” he said.

Mr Kakwata thanked cooperating partners that work hard to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic at district level, saying it is a noble act that calls for unity and cooperation to achieve the set goal.

And speaking at the same function, Barrick Lumwana Mine Sustainability Manager, Christopher Mukala, said when it comes to HIV/AIDS related issues, women and girls are paying the highest price.

Mr Mukala said the battle against AIDS in Africa will only be won if huge progress is made on the rights of women and girls, as well as gender equality.

“It is unacceptable that, worldwide HIV remains a leading cause of death for women aged 15 to 49 years. Millions of poor women and girls are denied the right to make decisions about their health and bodies, enough is enough,” he said.

He further stated that there is need to bring power and equality to all young women and girls.

“When we know that keeping girls in school reduces their risk of acquiring HIV, we must empower all girls to stay in school,” he said.

Mr Mukala pointed out that there is need to invest in more scientific innovations for prevention, testing, treatment and care adding that communities should be empowered in order to lead the response on the ground.

“We must find national pathways towards sustainable long-term financing of AIDS responses. All these are achievable, they are an exciting and winning agenda. When we win, we will not just end AIDS. We will have fairer, more equal and healthier societies,” he said.

Meanwhile, First Quantum Minerals (FQM), Kalumbila Minerals Limited representative, Alex Mapapayi, narrated that the mining firm has made healthcare a priority in all communities where it operates.

Mr Mapapayi said FQM has aligned its community initiatives with every one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a move that puts the mining giant at the forefront of best practice in private sector social investment locally and globally.

He however, said, the challenge in less prosperous regions, is where to draw the line between problems that the company has a responsibility to address and those that remain within the mandate of the public healthcare system.