Abidjan (Agenzia Fides) - The care of children affected by HIV/AIDS will soon become a reality in Ivory Coast through the GRAIL (Galvanizing Religious Actors for better Identification and Linkage to pediatric HIV) project.
This project, which aims to improve the diagnosis and care of HIV-positive children by strengthening the commitment of religious leaders, has been conceived and implemented since 2017 by Caritas Internationalis and successfully tested in Congo and Nigeria.
On 9 February, the project was launched in Côte d'Ivoire at CERAP (Center for Research and Action for Peace) in Abidjan Cocody, in the presence of the representatives of its partners: World Health Organization, UNAIDS, PNLS, national program for the fight against HIV/AIDS of the Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene, UNICEF.
Before this inauguration ceremony, a mass was celebrated to entrust the initiative to the Lord. In his homily, His Exc. Mgr. Bruno Essoh Yédo, Bishop of Bondoukou, President of the Episcopal Commission for Integral Human Development and President of Caritas Ivory Coast, welcomed the realization of the project that will help children 0-14 years with HIV who urgently need treatment to improve their life expectancy.
"According to the estimates of UNAIDS 2018, only 40% of children in need of treatment have access to it", complained the Bishop of Bondoukou.
Archbishop Bruno also underlined the Church's commitment to health. "If the Catholic Church has more than 21,000 health centers and more than 16,000 programs for the elderly and people living with chronic diseases and invalids, this indicates the importance it has towards the weakest" hence its involvement in GRAIL.
The realization of the GRAIL project in Ivory Coast was characterized by a two-day training seminar for religious guides on the theological and scientific aspects of HIV/AIDS disease for a wider dissemination of prevention messages with a view to reducing of social stigmatization. An approach much appreciated by all partners.
The pilot phase of the GRAIL project in Ivory Coast will be initiated in the dioceses of Abidjan, Yopougon, Katiola, Korhogo and Grand-Bassam. (S.S.) (Agenzia Fides, 13/2/2021)