South Africa accomplishes planned goals

January 15, 2010

The year of 2009 can be considered a key-year to South Africa. The III South Africa UNGASS-AIDS SSR Forum was held in Cape Town, last June and almost all the activities drawn in the advocacy plan were accomplished.  The meeting took place in the house of MOSAIC (a NGO) and had two days of intense discussions about health and sexual and reproductive rights, with the participation of 20 Health, Women, HIV/AIDS and GLB movement organizations.

Promoting the UNGASS-AIDS Declaration of Committment and the SRHR priorities within the national AIDS policies and strategies was done in many opportunities such as at the Reproductive Rights Alliance workshop, Men Engage Conference, Youth conference in Cape Town and Women’s Sector Prevention Summit. During the Summit many crucial issues were discussed such as the lack of access to the female condom, the need for more efficient prevention programmes for girls, attention to prevention activities for pregnant women who have tested negative, to get improved SRH and family planning services for women affected by AIDS, etc. These were a very strategic moment for civil society point out and highlight their main needs and concerns.

South Africa was also successful in communicating with society in general. Advocacy information addressing civil society were produced as part of the advocacy activities, as well as a press statement containing ten priority points.

After a year of hard work though the doubt whether the civil society report was incorporated by UNAIDS remains. The report was submitted after the country due date and even though UNAIDS supported its content and process, the document couldn’t be accepted as a shadow report by South Africa National AIDS Commission.

Last year the UNGASS AIDS Forum was successful when talking to the government Department of Health about the possibility of having civil society included as part of the delegation which will participate in the AIDS High Level Meeting at UN, expected to be held in 2011. That was a very difficult process in 2008 and the SC is looking forward to have it improved for the next UNGASS Review meeting.

In 2010 lobbying and strengthening Women’s Sectors will keep in place.


Viena holds the XVIII International AIDS Conference in 2010

January 15, 2010

From 18 to 23 July 2010, the XVIII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2010), an event organized by the International AIDS Society (IAS), will be held in Austria. Over 25.000 people working in the field of HIV, as well as policy makers and people living with HIV are expected.

The event will be an opportunity to highlight the importance of continued HIV investments to broader health and development goals and the critical connection between human rights and HIV. And it is also a great opportunity for us to present the work related UNGASS-AIDS and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of women.

YOUR PARTICIPATION WILL BE KEY

Attention with the following dates.

• Standard fee deadline is 24 February

• Apply for a scholarship – (December 8, 2009 – February 10, 2010)

• Submit an abstract (November 1, 2009 – February 10, 2010) or request abstract assistance –  (until February 3, 2010)

•  Submit skills building workshop proposals, sessions for the Global Village and Youth Programmes (December 1, 2009 – February 10, 2010)

•  Register to volunteer – April 1, 2010

•  Apply for exhibition space – (December 1, 2009 – May 31, 2010)

• Host a satellite meeting – (December 1, 2009 – March 31, 2010)

• Sign-up for monthly e-mail updates at http://www.aids2010.org using the “Add me to the mailing list” button.

For further information about the conference and how to participate click http://www.aids2010.org/


Indonesia: a year of great achievements

January 15, 2010

It seems this past year was a new start for the Indonesian civil society’s participation in the social control of public policies of AIDS, having the UNGASS-AIDS Forum on Sexual and Reproductive Health as a strong political tool. The first Forum was held in 2007, the second  in 2008 and, after almost three years later the UNGASS-AIDS Forum results are quite impressive.

Organized by JOHTI, the III Ungass AIDS Forum in 2009 had the participation of eleven civil society organizations from different parts of the country. According to the Forum’s coordinator, Aditya Wardhana, the partnership between the organizations and with the government became much stronger. “The National Aids Commission admitted the Forum as a new entity and they treat us as equal partners. We were involved in the Monitoring and Evaluation Program and also in other policy instances, as the National Strategic Plan on AIDS (NSP) for 2010-2014, Harm Reduction Regulation, Health Law Advocacy and Drugs Law Advocacy.” The Indonesia UNGASS Forum have actually joined the core writer team of the NSP and was also able, in partnership with the Advocacy Network for Health Law, to eliminate a law which criminalized the HIV transmission.

As another important outcome of this approximation, after the III Forum there was another meeting, promoted by the Indonesia UNGASS Forum, with the NAC secretary. “The secretary agreed that there is a need to develop a civil society report together with the government report in order to get a complete picture of AIDS response in Indonesia”, said Wardhana. In the end NAC also agreed that Indonesia UNGASS Forum will lead the National Composite Policy Index (NCPI) Part B of the Country Report, what is already happening now.

Great achievement among last year’s activity was also the 9th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, held in Bali, last August. Under the theme “Empowering people, strengthening networks”, the event was an opportunity for UNAGSS Forum and JOTHI to do some campaign to promote the UNGASS-AIDS and build partnership in Asia and the Pacific regarding its monitoring process.

Even though 2009 was a great year for the country, there are still some challenges to be overcome. Wardhana admits Indonesia needs a stronger civil society organization platform in order to actually become a government’s partner with equal conditions. If it happens, the Indonesia UNGASS Forum would certainly take a key position on the Civil Society AIDS


UNGASS-AIDS Forum Indonesia steps into High Gear

July 3, 2009

One of the quickest outcomes of the III UNGASS-AIDS Forum Indonesia, held in Jakarta on 28–30 May 2009, was the decision to establish a dialogue with the National AIDS Commission. The Forum was coordinated by JOTHI – Network of People Living with HIV. Fifteen civil society representatives discussed and agreed to:

(1) Significantly contribute to building up the country report in partnership with National AIDS Commission;

(2) Collect qualitative data and produce CS report on women’s sexual and reproductive health, advocating for its integration within the national report for UNGASS-AIDS 2010;

(3) Advocate National AIDS Commission for the Indonesian UNGASS Forum to lead the process of NCPI part B.

Rico Gustav addresses the UNGASS-AIDS Forum Indonesia.

Rico Gustav addresses the UNGASS-AIDS Forum Indonesia.

A request for a meeting has been submitted to National AIDS Commission, and the secretary of the commission herself has welcome the Indonesian UNGASS Forum. The meeting was held on 14 June 2009. The agenda of the meeting included:

(1) Introduction of the UNGASS Forum and its expanded members;

(2) Inform the NAC on the major points that the 3rd UNGASS-AIDS Forum has agreed on;

(3) Discuss strategies of which the Indonesian UNGASS Forum and National AIDS Commission can collaborate and coordinate in equal partnership, in the sense of monitoring country response to fulfill the Declaration of Commitment;

(4) Discuss challenges faced by UNGASS Forum and request National AIDS Commission’s assistance.

Results of the meeting with NAC

The NAC representatives, Mrs. Nafsiah and their person in charge on UNGASS Reporting, Mr. Kemal, supported the Indonesian Forum to make the UNGASS-AIDS concepts more down to earth so people in the grassroots level can understand and get familiarized with them. They also agreed to fund UNGASS-AIDS Forum Indonesia to lead the NCPI part B process. And possibly fund an UNGASS-AIDS Regional Forum at the ICAAP.

Furthermore, the Indonesian Forum constituency is developing the research framework based on the instruments and methodology Gestos that is being lead in the country by JOTHI. Besides investigating, the UNGASS-AIDS coalition is mostly responding to growing issues that are currently happening, and coordinating actions among members.

Additya Wardhana of JOTHI in the III UNGASS-AIDS Forum Indonesia

Aditya Wardhana of JOTHI at the III UNGASS-AIDS Forum, in Jakarta.

Just recently, there was information that one of the local government was going to issue a regulation that establishes that couples that are about to marry must be HIV free. This is a very urgent issue to advocate on. One more time, technocrats manage to violate human rights.

Meanwhile, Indonesia organized civil society also face a serious ARV shortage and the spread of disrespectful practices such as expired distribution of medicines. Aditya Wardhana, JOTHI coordinator for policy development and advocacy, said that giving patients just a few days’ supply of ARV was risky because the drug was handed out in unlabeled plastic bags that did not have expiration dates on them. “This is human lives we’re talking about,” he said. Just another way of showing in fact what numbers and statistics do not.