The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Tuesday it will continue assisting Zambia in the fight against the epidemic of HIV/AIDS which prevails among its people and those immigrants and refugees in particular.
IOM Chief of Zambia Mission Josiah Ogina said the organization has the mandate to encourage social and economic development by working with mobile populations, such as migrants and refugees, who are more vulnerable to being infected with HIV in order to reduce and eventually prevent the spread of the disease.
Ogina said human mobility has always been a driving force in the spread of HIV/AIDS and other epidemics of infectious disease since social and cultural norms that ordinarily reduce risky behavior would break down during the migration process.
Furthermore, migration made it more difficult for mobile populations to access proper support, testing, care and treatment for HIV/AIDS, he added.
Ogina noted that worldwide 37.8 million people have been infected with HIV and nearly 3 million people died of AIDS in 2003 alone. And in Zambia, about 16 percent of its 10 million people are living with HIV/AIDS.
Due to the magnitude of the pandemic in Zambia, Ogina said IOM is working with UN partners in the prevention and capacity building initiatives aimed at assisting the Zambian government in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which include the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
IOM is also developing the capacity of people at the grass roots level to contribute to the fight against HIV/AIDS by training refugees as well as the host community members to disseminate information and act as peer educators or health workers.