Why GGM, TACASIDS support campaign against HIV/AIDS

19May 2016
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Why GGM, TACASIDS support campaign against HIV/AIDS

THE Tanzania HIV and AIDS and Malaria Indicator Survey (THMIS) 2011/12, reported that 5.1 percent of people aged 15-49 in Tanzania are PLHIV - the prevalence for males is 3.8 percent while that for females is 6.2 percent.

TACAIDS’s Executive Officer Dr Fatima Mrisho (Centre), Vice President Sustainability of the Geita Gold Mine (GGM), Simon Shayo (3rd Right), speak to journalists on the Kilimanjaro Challenge against HIV/ AIDS campaign yesterday in Dar es Salaam that will be launched in Dar es Salaam this Friday by the Vice President of Tanzania SamiaSuluhu Hassan

The HIV prevalence in the age-group 15-49, is 5.3 percent for Mainland Tanzania and 1.0 percent for Zanzibar.

HIV prevalence is higher among individuals who are employed at 6 percent, than among those who are not employed at 3 percent. It is also higher in urban areas at 7.0 percent than in rural areas at 4.0 percent.

Having recognised that then Geita Gold Mine which is owned and operated by Anglo Gold Ashanti, one of the world's leading gold producers, just outside the bustling town of Geita in North Western Tanzania, in 2002 decided to establish the Geita Kilimanjaro Challenge, with the intention of raising funds through climbing Mt Kilimanjaro.

Since then the GGM Kilimanjaro Challenge has remained a mulitnational collaborative partnership involving local and foreign companies and individuals from across the globe for this very noble cause, of saving lives from HIV/AIDS, and giving the people of Tanzania hope of an HIV/AIDS free future.

Commenting on the Kili-campaign yesterday in Dar es Salaam TACAIDS’s Executive Officer Dr Fatima Mrisho commended the government’s efforts by involving the private sector to wage war against the scourge that has become a challenge to the development of the nation.

She therefore commended GGM in collaboration with TACAIDS for waging war against the scourge for the last 15 years now.

She said currently by estimation the HIV prevalence has decreased, but more efforts were needed to address the scourge in order to achieve the UNAIDS Global Goal of ‘Zero new infections, Zero discrimination and Zero AIDS related deaths by 2020. “We want to ensure by 2030, HIV new infections which currently is over 50,000 a year to be history, and not to be a major threat to our development,” she noted.

“We want AIDS related deaths which have decreased up to 40 percent by now, to be 100 percent by 2030.” The money which was used for addressing HIV problems will be channeled to other development issues.

According to Dr Mrisho in Tanzania, as in other countries, HIV-related stigma and discrimination are pervasive and harmful. People associated with HIV often experience stigmatising attitudes and discrimination in every aspect of their lives: at home, school, work, and in seeking healthcare.

In addition, stigma and discrimination fuel the spread of HIV by increasing fear and secrecy around testing and disclosure, and contributing to a lower uptake of health services and adherence to treatment. Stigma and discrimination have severe effects on PLHIV and on the community at large.

Since 1981 a number of HIV and AIDS victims had been increasing in Tanzania and various efforts have been continuing to be placed in order to curb the problem. According to statistics by the Tanzania Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS) about 1.6 million Tanzanians have been infected by HIV/AIDS.

In recent years many of the new infections fall in the age ranges of 15 to 25 years of age, decimating the future of the country's youth and economic development of our country.

The pandemic has highly affected more than 1.3 youth and orphans. There are more chances that the number will increase if together as a country, we would not aggressively have serious interventions in to this calamity.

It may lead to psychological suffering and distress, including withdrawal and anger, and may reduce the inclination of an individual to seek appropriate treatment, care and support.

PLHIV who encounter stigma and discrimination may fear losing the love and support of their families, friends and even employers if they disclose their HIV status.

Stigma and discrimination, therefore, are among the barriers that constrain the national response to AIDS and hinder the attainment of its desired outcomes.

There are various reasons that the infection would scale up. While there have been a number of campaigns across the country, the society has a little knowledge about HIV and AIDS due to few available information centres and medical support and reminders to ensure that the message continues to ring in the minds of the youths.

Furthermore, stigmatisation has also become a very challenging factor in our societies, although in many towns and communities the perception slowly changes, but it still makes the victims feel shy to declare their status. As a result HIV and AIDS infections continue to double steadily but surely in our communities.

For his part, the Vice President Sustainability of the Geita Gold Mine (GGM), Simon Shayo said that in collaboration with Tanzania Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS) will be launching the Kilimanjaro Challenge against HIV/ AIDS on Friday this week in Dar es Salaam. The Guest of Honour is expected to be the Vice President of Tanzania SamiaSuluhu Hassan.

Kilimanjaro HIV & AIDS Challenge now on its 15th year, the campaign was launched in 2002 to raise funds annually in order to support the Government in the fight against this calamity on communities who are living with the devastation caused by HIV/AIDS.

Kili Challenge Campaign and other initiatives have helped to reduce the number to 48 percent less than the number of HIV/AIDS related deaths in Tanzania in 2003. To date, over 30 NGOs have directly benefited from the charity and thousands of men and women countrywide.

The funds raised are allocated to AIDS research, support of orphanages, hospitals and clinics in an attempt to reduce not only the impact of the disease on those left behind by deceased parents and relatives, but also to reduce the stigma and public shunning of those with HIV/AIDS.

The initiative directly supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal no 3 to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

The Campaign will continue to raise funds to reduce spread of HIV and AIDS by 2030.
The charity is expected to contribute more funds and play a major role in reducing the number of HIV related deaths in Tanzania and give people the hope of an HIV free future.

With the support of many likeminded companies through the years, such as Prime Fuel, ACCACIA, Prime fuels Tanzania Ltd, Celtel/ Airtel Tanzania Ltd, Capital Drilling (T) LTD and others, the Kilimanjaro Challenge will continue to grow stronger each year and lend support to a multitude of beneficiaries from hospitals and clinics to orphanages and other government and private organisations.

The Geita Gold Mine Kilimanjaro HIV/AIDS Challenge raises funds annually to support communities who are living with the devastation caused by HIV/AIDS.

The funds raised are allocated to AIDS research, support of orphanages, hospitals and clinics in an attempt to reduce not only the impact of the disease on those left behind by deceased parents and relatives, but also to reduce the stigma and public shunning of those with HIV/AIDS.

How to help

You can help by simply making a donation to the Geita Gold Mine Kilimanjaro Challenge Trust, sponsor a climber on the challenge or climbing yourself and paying the climber sponsorship amount.

Why you should help

Approximately 230 people die of HIV/AIDS related illness daily in Tanzania (UNAIDS). That is almost 10 deaths every hour. Many of these deaths fall in the age ranges of 15 to 48 years of age, leaving children orphaned and decimating the future of the country's youth and economic development.

However as startling as these figures appear, there is hope. Thanks to the Geita Gold Mine Kilimanajaro HIV/AIDS Challenge and other initiatives, this number is 48% less than the number of HIV/AIDS related deaths in Tanzania in 2003.

Over a decade of contributions from this charity has played a major role in reducing the number of HIV related deaths in Tanzania and given the people of this wonderful country hope of an HIV free future.

With the help of hundreds of sponsors over the past 15 years, the Geita Gold Mine Kilimanjaro HIV/AIDS Challenge continues to grow stronger each year and lends support to a multitude of beneficiaries from hospitals and clinics to orphanages and other government and private organisations.

The challenge’s circle of climbers has continued to widen as Tanzanians join hands with people from Australia, Brazil, Canada, South Africa, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, United Kingdom, United States of America, Zimbabwe, Ireland and China.

Since 2002 more than 600 people have participated in the charity climb, with the youngest being an 11-year boy and the oldest at 84, none other than the retiring President, H.E. Mzee Ali Hassan Mwinyi.

Many of the climbers over the years have lost relatives and close friends to HIV/AIDS, which has made the climb all the more relevant to them. The challenges faced daily by many in the wake of these deaths are far from over.

These include thousands of orphans needing care after losing parents, widows without income, and the aged who are forced out of retirement to earn money to care for young grandsons and daughters left behind by deceased parents. There is also the problem of society distancing and shunning People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV).

So why the climb? Around 400 Tanzanians have been given the opportunity to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro through the GGM Kilimanjaro Challenge. These climbers have all been sponsired by Anglo Gold Ashanti and other sponsors over the past 15 years.
These climbers, Tanzanian and foreign, are inspired by Tanzania's Father of the Nation, the late President Julius Nyerere, who on 22 October 1959 addressed the Tanganyika Legislative Council shortly before independence, in a landmark speech on the importance of Mt. Kilimanjaro to the country and Africa as a whole.

He declared “We the people of Tanganyika, would like to light a candle and put it on the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, which would shine beyond our borders, giving hope where there was despair, love where there was hate, and dignity where before there was only humiliation."