HIV/Aids: Religious Leaders Form NGO

The ongoing war against HIV/AIDS has received an added boost with the launching of a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Inter-Faith HIV/AIDS Council of Nigeria, by Christian and Muslim leaders to fight the deadly scourge. The new NGO was formed in conjunctionwith The Balm in Gilead, an African American NGO in the United States.

The Inter-faith HIV/AIDS Council was formed by the leadership of Nigeria's Christian and Muslim communities to address HIV/AIDS issues in response to The Balm In Gilead's call to the communities to come together to address the ever-growing problem of the desease in Nigeria. The first meeting of The Interfaith HIV/AIDS Council of Nigeria was convened by The Balm In Gilead on April 16, 2002 in Abuja. The now NGO, which has as its motto "In Love, Unity and Hope we fight HIV/AIDS", stated that its mission is to empower religious organisations to play a leadership role in stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria and to support those infected and affected by the virus. The constitution of the NGO was adopted on October 30, 2002 at the fourth planning committee meeting held in Maryland, Lagos, where Rev. Kaine Nwashili was selected as the national director. Dr. Agatha Ogunkorode was selected national monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator. The Ven. Dr. Bode Akintade was selected as the chairperson of the advisory council.

Dr. Lateef Adegbite, secretary general of the Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, Most Rev. J. Onaiyekan, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria and Archbishop of Abuja, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Peter Adebiyi, Anglican Bishop of Lagos West and The Christian Health Association of Nigeria (CHAN), along with other key leaders of the Christian and Muslim communities have been very instrumental in the development of this national organisation in Nigeria.