Friday, March 19, 2010

Workshop On Mainstreaming HIV/AIDS In PRSP

NEWS BANJUL THE GAMBIA(MB)-The National Aids Services Organisation (NASO) on 16 and 17 February 2010 held a sensitization workshop on Mainstreaming HIV and AIDS into the PRSP.
The workshop was held at the Paradise Suites Hotel, and brought together government officials, representatives of non governmental organisations, and UN agencies, among others.
Speaking at the official opening ceremony, the Director of the National AIDS Secretariat (NAS), Alieu Jammeh, said there is a need to mainstream HIV related priorities into the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP).
This will help to create an “enabling policy and resource environment” for an effective response to the epidemic, thus achieving synergy between diverse interventions across many sectors, and ensuring adequate financing for HIV and AIDS, he added.
According to Mr. Jammeh, poverty reduction strategies are becoming the main development planning instruments in many countries, determining national priorities and domestic, as well as external resource allocation.
This is the main reason for integrating, so as to ensure that resources are allocated to programmes aimed at reversing the epidemic and managing its impact.
Therefore, the need for capacity building of NASO to effectively undertake oversight role on all HIV/AIDS matters, and resources mobilization and coordination from governments and the donor community at the international and local levels in order to implement HIV/AIDS activities is important, he added.
The capacity building of NASO, in turn, creates the supportive environment that would ensure prevention, care, support and impact mitigation that are incorporated into national development plans including PRSP, national budget allocations and sectoral development plans and programmes.
“Sensitising NASO would also ensure that multi-sectoral strategies and financial plans address the epidemic effectively and efficiently; strengthen and develop legislation, regulations and other measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and members of vulnerable groups such as orphana and other vulnerable children”.
Furthermore, it would create and ensure a supportive environment for local and national organisations to expand and strengthen partnerships, coalitions and networks in fighting HIV and AIDS and the facilitation of public participation, he stated.
Mr. Jammeh asserted that capacity building of NASO will also foster stronger collaboration with development partners and build innovative partnerships between members of NASO with civil society organisations within the country and abroad in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
The impact of HIV and AIDS is unique, Mr. Jammeh continued, adding that “AIDS kills adults in the prime of their lives, thus depriving families, communities, and entire nations of their young and most productive people”.
In addition, AIDS has added a heavy disease burden in poor countries. The HIV and AIDS epidemic is deepening and spreading poverty, reversing human development, worsening gender inequalities, eroding the capacity of governments to provide essential services, reducing labour productivity, and hampering pro-poor growth, declared the NAS Director.
In his keynote address, the Director General of the National Planning Commission (NPC), Abdou Touray (in a statement read on his behalf by Ms Juldeh Ceesay) emphasised the importance of the training session, noting that the workshop intends to widen the scope of the participants’ understanding and their key role in mainstreaming HIV and AIDS in all public actions at the central, regional and grassroots levels.
Mr. Touray added that, in spite of numerous public actions and remarkable gains, “HIV and AIDS “still remain both a global and national challenge to all our development efforts, and a country like the Gambia has no option but to give it the much needed attention it deserves”.
Quoting from recent UNAIDS reports, the NPC Director General stated that HIV and AIDS is on the decline. He added that the results of the 2007 sentinel survey in The Gambia revealed a dramatic reduction in the prevalence level of about one hundred percent from 2.8 percent to 1.4 for HIV-1 in 2006, whereas HIV-2 dropped to 0.5 percent from 0.9 percent in 2007.
Prevalence rates have declined in almost all towns, reducing from 4.8 percent in 2006 to 1.3 in 2007 in Brikama and similarly in Sibanor, Farafenni, Essau and Basse where HIV declined significantly in 2007, he further revealed.
This, he went on, can be attributed largely to positive behavioral change and, most importantly, President Yahya Jammeh’s intervention with his HIV and AIDS treatment programme.
Despite such gains registered in the national response to HIV and AIDs, Mr. Touray said, there is still an apparent gap between knowledge and behavior change, as well as insufficient knowledge of the key drivers of the epidemic.
According to Mr. Touray, mainstreaming HIV and AIDS in development plans and the PRSP in both high and low prevalence countries, can reduce the impact and spread of the epidemic and induce economic growth and human development.

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