The Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko and the Vice Chancellor of Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Professor Riskuwa Arabu Shehu, have commended the MTN Foundation for setting up a Youth Friendly Centre at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, to help combat the spread of HIV/AIDS among the youths. The commendation was made at the formal commissioning of the centre which took place at the university¿s premises. Governor Wamakko who was represented by his Special Adviser, Dr. Ali Inname said ¿HIV counselling and testing is the entry point to all HIV services. The establishment of the Youth Friendly Centre by MTN Foundation in Partnership with the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) is indeed commendable. The centre will increase access to HIV counselling and testing within the university community which will go a long way in preventing the spread of the disease.¿ The Youth Friendly Centre which is situated in the university¿s main campus was commissioned along with the Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centre hosted by Usmanu Danfodio University Teaching Hospital, Sokoto. Both centres are components of the MTN Foundation Partners Against Malaria and AIDS in the Community (PAMAC).
The project is aimed at combating the scourge of HIV/AIDS in communities by making it possible for youths and adults to check their HIV status and be counselled by professionals in a more friendly and conducive environment. Also speaking at the commissioning, the Vice Chancellor of the university said ¿Funding is a major challenge for most tertiary institutions in Nigeria and as such expenditure is prioritized. This leaves little or no funds to take care of students¿ welfare. We are very happy to see organisations particularly MTN Foundation coming to our aid in the area of students¿ welfare. We are very thankful to MTN Foundation for selecting our University because we are aware of the enormous demands from other institutions and other areas begging for the Foundation¿s attention.¿ The Chairman of MTN Foundation, Ambassador Hamzat Ahmadu, in his own comments stated that ¿the number of adults living with HIV/AIDS is high. Many people living with the virus still do not have access to HIV clinics and most people live far away from the few available voluntary counselling and testing centres around the country. The centres that we are commissioning today will avail more people access to health facilities, where they can receive counselling and referrals.¿ As part of the commissioning ceremony of the Youth Friendly Centre and Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centre, 35 beneficiaries of MTN Foundation Skills Acquisition project were presented with economic empowerment tools. The beneficiaries who are people living with HIV virus were given the equipment to enable them earn a living and provide for their families following the completion of a rigorous training in their chosen field. One of the beneficiaries (names withheld) who trained as a photographer under MTN Foundation Skills Acquisition project said ¿I am glad that MTN Foundation is helping to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS by commissioning the voluntary centres. I was retired from the State Security Service on account of the HIV which I had contracted. With such empowerment scheme from the Foundation, people living with the virus can be integrated into the society.¿
The MTN Foundation under its health portfolio recently commissioned a fully equipped state-of-the-art haemodialysis centre at the General Hospital, Onitsha in Anambra State. Similar facilities are ready for commissioning in other 10 Federal and State hospitals across the six geo-political zones in Nigeria. The Foundation is also in the process of commissioning six Mammography centres to reduce the incidence of death from breast cancer across the country.