By Aditia Taslim Lim, Asia-Pacific PCB NGO Delegate
Last April 29-May 1, I had the opportunity to attend the UNAIDS Asia Pacific Regional Management Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand. The meeting was attended by the Senior Management Team from Geneva, country directors and national staff from the region. As NGO Delegate from Asia-Pacific, I spoke in the panel, “Programming in Asia and the Pacific - Putting us in the Frame” along with other speakers from regional key population networks. I also took part in a second panel on “Harnessing social media to promote HIV prevention and increase the uptake of HIV services."
Some of my key messages and interventions during the discussion and throughout the meeting were as follows:
Asia and the Pacific Region Requires Attention
Asia Pacific requires political and global attention to influence changes, especially where the global dialogue remains largely focused on Africa. UNAIDS leadership needs to be stronger and bolder and it is expected that the recent appointment of the Deputy Executive Director for Programmes can influence the changes.
Data quality and availability are still inadequate and/or outdated. This includes lack of data on prisoners and understanding issues around other priority populations, including migrants and people on the move, young people, and indigenous people.
As agreed in the 2016 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, Member States should invest no less than 30% on community-led services and 6% on social enabling activities of the total AIDS expenditure. The current reporting mechanisms, i.e. the Global AIDS Monitoring and National AIDS Spending Assessment - do not provide enough information to understand how much investment is made to community-led services.
Harm reduction services have been stagnant, and in some countries, funding has dropped significantly, including closure of HR services. Heroin is coming back in Indonesia with a low price, and we currently have a major problem with stock-outs of needles and syringes. I am particularly concerned with the increase of (potential) overdose cases - where Naloxone is not available.
We need to learn from countries like Cambodia who stated they achieved the 90-90-90 targets, whether they have become a victim of their own achievement. Donors are moving away, and the government is not ready to fully invest in the HIV response. There are also issues around other health priorities that require more investment, as well as addressing corruption. I also highlighted funding for civil society and the risk of not having community advocacy and activism through social contracting.
There are real issues of human rights violations that we have not addressed. This include mass incarceration of people who use drugs and extrajudicial killings that are happening in several countries, which may be influenced directly or indirectly by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s punitive war on drugs. The mass incarceration in Cambodia following Duterte’s visit in 2018 or Sri Lanka praising the iron fist approach, need to be urgently addressed.
I expressed my concern over that many of the processes currently happening in Geneva are not communicated well to UNAIDS country offices. It is very important that global initiatives and exercises are informed by country needs and therefore provides impactful support and benefits to the national response.
Communication and Innovation
Key Populations have moved into virtual spaces. It is considered a safer space for many people who experience marginalisation and criminalisation. UNAIDS needs to be better in using advanced technology and addressing the needs of Key Populations in virtual spaces and to really maximise the role of the Office of Innovation.
The RMM also engaged with the communities and Key Populations that covered important areas such as Meeting Our Commitment, Universal Health Coverage, Game Changers and Use of Social Media.
UNAIDS is still a best practice in bringing up the voices of the community, and there is space for working differently, especially in the context of the UN Reform. One lesson that I have learned from working with UNAIDS in Indonesia is through the engagement of community representatives at the Joint Team of UN Cosponsors as part of the Country Envelope engagement process and to help shape and design the implementation. This also enables the community to have further influence and voice in other UN Cosponsors, not just in UNAIDS.
Photos courtesy of UNAIDS RST Asia Pacific
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Tags: 44th PCB Meeting
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Conference room papers:
Updated as of 15 July 2019, 09:45 CEST (Geneva)
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Statement by the NGO Delegation to the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB)
(Photo courtesy of ACCSI Acción Ciudadana Contra el SIDA, Caracas, Venezuela)
Over the past several months, the political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela has escalated. The people of Venezuela are experiencing extreme lack of basic goods and services, including food, potable water, housing, electricity, security, and most importantly, access to healthcare and life-saving medications, including ARV. The poverty level has risen to approximately 90% in 2019, which is a 42% increase since 2014.
More than 120,000 men, women and children live with HIV in Venezuela. From 2010 to 2016, new HIV infections jumped 24 percent. Pregnant women living with HIV are discriminated against, and during delivery, they are ill-treated by health care institutions. Children are born with HIV daily. These 120,000 people are now unnecessarily vulnerable to poor health outcomes due to lack of access to HIV treatment, other basic health commodities, and even food, with many dying of hunger and malnutrition.
In the past, Venezuela always provided treatment free of charge to those living with HIV. However, the collapse of the health care system, including the exodus of medical professionals, has aggravated the vulnerabilities of people most in need of health services. In addition to this, outbreaks of communicable diseases such tuberculosis, malaria, dengue, and even measles, have occurred in the last two years.
Various efforts have been done by PLHIV support organizations inside and outside of Venezuela to facilitate emergency support for those in need of treatment. However, the situation remains volatile and uncertain, especially with PLHIV support organizations not having full access to available resources. They are also being monitored and subjected to intimidation, which hinders their ability to deliver services to those in need.
The NGO Delegation to the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) asserts that health, including HIV treatment, is a human right that should never be denied to those in need. Access to treatment, food, housing, water, electricity, and health facilities should not be used as political weapons to suppress and stifle dissent.
We urge community and civil society organizations working on HIV and AIDS to join us in pressuring our own governments to call Venezuelan authorities to task and provide aid to those living with and vulnerable to HIV, including:
We call on the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS and Member States to respond at the level of the complex humanitarian emergency in Venezuela and in particular, to closely monitor the implementation of the National AIDS Programme.
We stand in solidarity with the people of Venezuela, especially those who are living with HIV. Together, we will remain steadfast in calling out this grave injustice, through our platform as members of the PCB, the global governance body of UNAIDS and beyond.
May 02, 2019
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Declaración en Español
Un llamado urgente para garantizar los derechos humanos, la protección social y el acceso al tratamiento para las personas que viven con VIH en Venezuela
Declaración de la delegación de las ONG’s en la Junta Coordinadora del Programa de ONUSIDA (JCP)
En los últimos meses, la crisis política y humanitaria en Venezuela se ha intensificado. La gente de Venezuela está experimentando una falta extrema de bienes y servicios básicos, incluidos alimentos, agua potable, vivienda, electricidad, seguridad y, lo que es más importante, acceso a atención médica y medicamentos para salvar vidas, incluidos los ARV. El nivel de pobreza aumentó a aproximadamente el 90% en 2019, lo que representa un aumento del 42% desde 2014.
Más de 120,000 hombres, mujeres y niños viven con VIH en Venezuela. De 2010 a 2016, las nuevas infecciones por VIH aumentaron un 24 por ciento. Las mujeres embarazadas que viven con el VIH son discriminadas y, durante el parto, son maltratadas por las instituciones de salud. Los niños nacen con VIH diariamente. Estas 120,000 personas ahora son innecesariamente vulnerables a los malos resultados de salud debido a la falta de acceso al tratamiento contra el VIH, a otros productos básicos de salud e incluso a los alimentos, y muchos mueren de hambre y malnutrición.
En el pasado, Venezuela siempre brindaba tratamiento gratuito a las personas que viven con VIH. Sin embargo, el colapso del sistema de salud, incluido el éxodo de profesionales médicos, ha agravado las vulnerabilidades de las personas que más necesitan servicios de salud. Además de esto, en los últimos dos años se han producido brotes de enfermedades transmisibles como tuberculosis, malaria, dengue e incluso sarampión.
Las organizaciones de apoyo a personas que viven con el VIH / SIDA han realizado diversos esfuerzos dentro y fuera de Venezuela para facilitar el apoyo de emergencia para las personas que necesitan tratamiento. Sin embargo, la situación sigue siendo inestable e incierta, especialmente porque las organizaciones de apoyo a las personas que viven con VIH no tienen acceso total a los recursos disponibles. También están siendo monitoreados y sometidos a intimidación, lo que dificulta su capacidad para prestar servicios a los necesitados.
La delegación de las ONG’s en la Junta Coordinadora del Programa de ONUSIDA (PCB) afirma que la salud, incluido el tratamiento del VIH, es un derecho humano que nunca debe ser negado a quienes lo necesitan. El acceso a tratamientos, alimentos, vivienda, agua, electricidad y servicios de salud no se deben usar como armas políticas para reprimir y reprimir la disidencia.
Instamos a las organizaciones comunitarias y de la sociedad civil que trabajan con el VIH y el SIDA a unirse a nosotros para presionar a nuestros propios gobiernos para que pongan en orden a las autoridades venezolanas y brinden ayuda a las personas que viven con y que son vulnerables al VIH, entre ellas:
Hacemos un llamado al Programa Conjunto de las Naciones Unidas sobre el VIH / SIDA y a los Estados Miembros para que respondan al nivel de la compleja emergencia humanitaria en Venezuela y, en particular, para que supervisen de cerca la implementación del Programa Nacional de SIDA.
Nos solidarizamos con el pueblo de Venezuela, especialmente con los que viven con el VIH. Juntos, nos mantendremos firmes al manifestar esta grave injusticia, a través de nuestra plataforma como miembros de la JCP, el órgano de gobierno global de ONUSIDA y más allá.
Mayo 02, 2019
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Tags: Venezuela Crisis
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