Mozambique Government getting community level knowledge on HIV and AIDS
This week we go to Mozambique. Since 2009, VSO have been working with Members of Parliament on the HIV and AIDS Committee. Rute Dos Santos, Programme Manager in VSO Mozambique, writes about the recent annual review held in the Assembly of the Republic.
In May, VSO Mozambique attended the Parliamentary Cabinet for HIV and AIDS Prevention. This high level meeting brought together 340 Parliamentarians, VSO staff and nine partner organisations. The Cabinet has partnered with civil society agencies such as VSO, UNFPA, and Johns Hopkins University since 2009, to find ways to improve the HIV and AIDS situation in Mozambique.
At the meeting, Member of Parliament (MP) and President of the Cabinet, Saimone Macuiana, gave an overview of the HIV and AIDS situation over the last year. He also acknowledged that partnerships with VSO and other organisations, has allowed the Cabinet to be better informed than in previous parliamentary sessions. It has increased knowledge through capacity building, attending regional conferences and national and international exchange visits. VSO has contributed to these through its RAISA HIV programme and its work with HIV and AIDS national volunteering.
MPs stated that partnering with VSO has given them a more realistic picture of what is happening in their constituencies, mostly on the challenges of community and home-based care. Key decision makers now have a better idea of what the situation is at community level.
Mr Macuiana said “We recognise that before we had very limited knowledge on HIV and AIDS and what home-based care givers do. We are now better informed and through this, we have trained 412 Members of the Parliament”.
So far, the Cabinet has supported training in three provinces with the highest HIV and AIDS prevalence (Inhambane, Gaza and Maputo). This included training on increasing male involvement in home-based care and reducing the burden of care on women and girls. In one project 91 people (56 women and 35 men) were trained – a group serving more than 900 people living with HIV or AIDS . And because MPs were also involved in the training in their constituencies, there was a strong buy-in from local community groups and beneficiaries.
“Our participation in RAISA national workshops adds value to us, as we hear direct from beneficiaries and take into account VSO and CSOs [civil society organizations].” said one speaker.
The Cabinet has ambitious plans for 2012. It will increase its focus on the reducing the burden of care on women and girls. It will also focus on the rights of the people living with HIV and AIDS and the challenges facing home-based carers. VSO hopes that there will also be a draft law that deals with the concerns of community and home based carers. This will follow the example of governments in Malawi and South Africa, and is crucial to achieve the UNAIDS targets and the Millennium Development Goal 6.
Another focus for the Cabinet is to extend the HIV and AIDS service in prisons, a move inspired by RAISA.
Here in Mozambique, we feel a great sense of accomplishment. The initial contacts made some years ago with a few MPs, have now blossomed into a sustained piece of work. We now have commitment from key politicians from all parties. There is a long way to go, but VSO aims to be accompanying the HIV Cabinet on their involvement over the year to come.
Rute Dos Santos
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