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By NBF News
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First Lady, Patience Jonathan has said that the growth of telephony in Nigeria has provided a strong platform for increased information dissemination on health challenges, as Airtel Networks Limited is commended for providing toll free National Call Centre  to the National Agency for Control of AIDS (NACA).

Dame Jonathan, accompanied by the wife of the Vice President, Hajiya Amina Sambo and the First Ladies of Rivers and Bayelsa States, among others, observed that the growth of subscriber base of telecoms firms in Nigeria provides a strong platform for using telephony to drive health awareness.

She stated: 'I believe that the establishment of this National Call Centre will go a long way in strengthening our national response to HIV/AIDS, as is the case in other countries of the world, such as South Africa, the Philipines and India, who have used help lines and Call Centres successfully in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic. '

Mr. Rajan Swaroop, Airtel Chief Executive Officer made the commitment at the formal commissioning of the NACA National Call Contact Centre in Abuja. Airtel is providing the backbone for the NACA National Contact Call Centre. Mr. Femi Oyewole, Regional Director, North of Airtel, represented Swaroop.

Recalling that the Airtel partnership with NACA began in 2005, the Airtel Chief Executive affirmed, 'As far as this partnership is concerned, we are totally committed to ensuring the success of the National Call Contact Centre. It is our role to ensure effective public enlightenment and education through firm commitment in scaling up existing efforts and concrete partnerships that will help millions of Nigerians access better information and referrals to service provision in healthcare delivery.

'At Airtel, we will also work with the NACA to send short messages concerning the deadly scourge to our subscribers nationwide.'

Swaroop lamented the sentinel survey 2011 results that show higher prevalence of HIV in some rural areas compared with urban areas. He called for more effort by telecoms firms to enhance the fight against the scourge by enabling provision of information to citizens particularly in rural areas. 'I would like to use this medium to call on other GSM operators to dedicate toll free lines for their subscribers to experience the opportunity provided by NACA',  he stated.