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Fomunyoh Foundation Intensifies Crusade Against HIV/AIDS 

By Chris Mbunwe

The Fomunyoh Foundation, Bamenda, has for the past three months been drilling medics, lawyers, journalists and people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS to improve on their knowledge and access to healthcare .

Speaking at one of the seminars at the Foundation Radio Station, Bamenda, the Foundation’s Country Coordinator, Jespa Ajereboh, expressed gratitude to Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh, the founder, for focusing on health care, prevention and ways to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Northwest and Cameroon in general. He announced that the Fomunyoh Foundation will soon open a library with 25,000 books based on democracy, human rights and education.

Presenting a paper titled, "On HIV/AIDS – Law, Health and Human Rights in Cameroon," one of the resource persons, Barrister Henry Kemende, said everyone has the right to live and that the existing laws in Cameroon touch on sexually transmissible diseases like gonorrhoea and syphilis. He however regretted that the law is silent on HIVAIDS. He warned that anybody caught deliberately spreading the disease when he is known to be HIV positive is equally liable to sanctions as stipulated in the law.

Barrister Kemende further explained that doctors or nurses who, out of negligence, infect innocent patients in course of discharging their duties are liable to face court action.
Also, while presenting a paper on HIV/AIDS Labour Law and Human Rights cases in Cameroon, the Southwest Vice President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Mrs. Rose Mba- Acha, said the impact of HIV/AIDS is a big threat to the labour force in Cameroon because it affects young people between the ages of 40-45.

"It is very costly to maintain an HIV/AIDS patient in a company because of ill health. But no law says you should dismiss somebody who is HIV positive or refuse him/her employment. If you do that, you are violating his/her human rights to gainful employment and if you are dragged to court, know that you will pay dearly," Justice Mba-Acha said. She cited portions of international laws that forbid any employer from obliging workers of a company to go for HIV tests.

She advised that employers should rather encourage their workers to attend educative talks and go for voluntary counselling and testing on HIV/AIDS than using force. Justice Mba-Acha regretted that Cameroon is not among countries that have specific legislation on HIV/AIDS, like Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Romania etc.

The Programme Manager of the HIV/AIDS of the Fomunyoh Foundation, Therese Fomundam, from South Africa, said the Foundation will continue to bring in experts on HIV/AIDS topics and treatment every month to keep Cameroonians abreast with new developments and treatment. He noted that it also requires the joint effort of community leaders, faithful organisations, politicians and the population at large. The experts promised to train the population on HIV/AIDS treatment in the days ahead.

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