On November 26, 2015, a competition revolving around African tribal dances performed in grass skirts, marked by feverish excitement and unrestrained enthusiasm, was staged at GMG HEVECAM, a Cameroonian plantation of GMG Global Ltd, a subsidiary of Sinochem International Corporation. The audience cheered in appreciation from time to time as both women and children danced and sang to their heart's content...
The competition was not held to celebrate any traditional Cameroonian festival, but as part of a special week dedicated solely to giving publicity to AIDS prevention and control (hereinafter referred to as “the Week”). In fact, World AIDS Day would have been observed for 28 consecutive times a few days later, on December 1, 2015, at which time the world would unite once again in reiterating its determination to achieve the previously declared goal of "Getting to Zero." To work toward this goal, GMG HEVECAM joined forces with CAMTEL, a national telecommunications and Internet service provider in Cameroon, from November 26 to December 1, 2015, to stage a series of activities within its boundaries to give publicity to AIDS prevention and control.
The latent period of the human immunodeficiency virus, commonly called HIV, is eight to nine years on average. At present, no medicine exists in the world that can be deemed an effective cure, and the only viable way of fighting against the disease is to take medicine to minimize the viral load and keep it down so that the immune system may recover to a certain degree and so maintain its function. For this approach to be effective, however, it is vital to detect the disease and intervene as soon as possible. But due to the low level of education enjoyed by the residents of the plantation as a whole, it has already become the key to controlling the prevalence of AIDS there to give greater publicity to AIDS prevention and control so that any case can be discovered and get treated as soon as possible. As a result, how to educate the plantation residents about AIDS so that they can take preventive measures became the most important issue for the organizing parties to consider.
Gabriel was one of the leaders who took charge of the tribal activities during the Week, and the series of activities kicked off at his village, namely Village 3 in the plantation. After receiving notification, he immediately mobilized his fellow villagers in an effort to make preparations for the Week; the plantation residents warmly welcomed and got actively involved in all the activities. "In our village, plantation employees showed great enthusiasm for the activities aimed at giving publicity to AIDS prevention and control and took pride in getting actively involved, because they thought the activities would be beneficial to everyone," said Gabriel.
Among the activities staged during the one-week period were a public lecture teaching people how to prevent and fight AIDS, a soccer competition revolving around the fight against AIDS, showings of publicity films, and free voluntary HIV diagnosis; the activities took place in succession at various locations within the plantation, including Village 11 in the Eastern Zone, Village 3 in the Northern Zone, Village 14 in the Southern Zone, Village 7 in the Central Zone, Village 13 in the Western Zone, and the Executive Club. To arouse the enthusiasm of the plantation residents, some dance competitions, including the aforementioned one, were intermixed with the publicity-oriented activities so that a light-hearted atmosphere might be created for the transmission of knowledge about AIDS prevention and control, and nice gifts were distributed to the participants. "All diagnostic results were anonymously distributed to their respective appropriate receivers. In fact, they were properly labeled to preserve anonymity. And no charge was made for any diagnosis, which was absolutely voluntary," said Valery, who served as a doctor in the mobile medical laboratory during the Week. "Not only was complete privacy guaranteed for everybody, but all potential psychological or economical barriers were eliminated so that a great number of people were given professional examination and other medical services."
Because all participation and services took place anonymously, the series of activities achieved planned coverage of the villages and plantation employees. "The more people participate in such activities, the better protected they become," said Doctor Valery, smiling happily. "We gave professional guidance and advice to every employee who participated in the activities and was given whatever diagnostic result." And Gabriel also concurred, "Giving everyone professional advice will go a long way towards preventing AIDS infection and its spread."
In fact, GMG HEVECAM collaborated as early as 2007 with Johns Hopkins University of the United States in establishing an AIDS research center, introducing internationally advanced diagnostic equipment, and undertaking a five-year AIDS research project. In fact, the research center has retained the advanced diagnostic equipment and been put to good use to date after the project.
According to reliable sources, Cameroon has begun to treat fighting AIDS as part of its national strategy, and its national incidence of AIDS has been declining steadily, though the incidence for the youth is as high as 13.4% and the figure is even higher for female adolescents. "Special attention should be paid to young people in our villages, because they are more vulnerable. It is good that many young people participated in the activities of the Week. Of course, it is necessary to care for them in daily life and give them proper education continuously to keep them from harm," Gabriel suggested.
It is true that strengthening publicity and prevention and control efforts will effectively improve the standard of living of the plantation residents and reduce the incidence and death rate of AIDS. At present, within GMG HEVECAM, there are such educational and medical facilities as one junior high school, one technical school, 13 primary schools, 13 kindergartens, and one general hospital with 120 beds. "All these facilities make GMG HEVECAM one of the best plantations in southern Cameroon," said Liu Haipeng, Director of Operations of GMG HEVECAM. "The plantation boasts steady income, tap water, TV coverage, and a standard of living higher that most other places. As a China-based business, GMG HEVECAM dedicates itself to achieving a win-win situation with the local people of Africa," Director Liu concluded.