Arba Minch, September 17: The 2005 EFY four-day annual Joint Performance Review Meeting of the National Multi-sectoral Response against HIV/AIDS began yesterday in this capital city of Gamo Gofa Zone with visits of selected best practice sites in and around Arba Minch town.
The meeting is being attended by high-level dignitaries including Dr. Kebede Worku, State Minister of the Ministry of Health, members of the House of Peoples’ Representatives, Ato Berhanu Feyisa, General Manager of FHAPCO, Ato Beta Tsemata representative of Gamo Gofa Zone Adinistration , heads of regional HB and HAPCOs. Also on hand to take part at the meeting are: Mr. Linden Morrison, from Global Fund, Dr. Carmela Green- Abate, Country Coordinator of PEPFAR, and representatives of sector Ministries and governmental and non-governmental local and international organizations and partners.
The more than 250 participants of the review meeting were divided into groups to visit six selected best practice sites namely; Arba Minch Hospital, Arba Minch University, Molle village in West Abaya Woreda, Shella village mother-support group, and care and support services provided by Faith Based Organizations Sub-forum and a Dropping Center for CSW.
During a visit to Arba Minch Hospital, the group led by Dr. Kebede Worku, was briefed by Dr. Asfaw Gemaneh, Medical Director of the Hospital on the services being provided by the Hospital. He told the group that currently there are 2265 PLHIV on ART and that during 2005 E.C. the Hospital has provided VCT services to about 2000 people out of which 62 were tested positive. The Hospital provides various services such as linkage of VCT/HCT and PMTCT with ART clinics, adherence support and ART uptake.
At Arba Minch University, Ato Firew Begashaw, AMU UNICEF/UNFPA Joint Program Coordinator briefed the visiting group, led by Ato Berhanu Feyisa, on HIV/AIDS intervention efforts within the university community encompassing about 18000 students and 4000 full time academic and administrative and support staff. He added that interventions focusing on the three pillars of multisectorol HIV/AIDS responses (behavioral, structural and bio-medical) are being impemented at the University.
He further pointed out that one PLHIV association has been established within the University and that there is one functional AIDS Resource Center. Besides, peer dialogue, life skill education, youth friendly services (adolescent and youth reproductive health issues) are being provided.
Another group which visited Faith-Based Organization Sub-Forum was told by Kesis Yakob Desta, chairperson of the forum that it was formed four years ago by the Muslim, the Orthodox Church, the Ethiopian Evangelical Churches Fellowship and the Catholic Church religious institutions to create awareness among the community about the negative impact of HIV/AIDS, and to assist bed-ridden, disabled people, OVCs and the poor and helpless elders. He further said that currently the forum is providing 200 birr per month per person to 15 elders, 250 birr per month, per person to 15 OVCs and 180 birr per month, per person to 10 children living with HIV/AIDS. It is also assisting other affected and needy people to support themselves through income generation.
Members of the visiting group expressed their appreciation for the contributions the forum is making and for the exemplary initiative being taken by the different religious institution to work in harmony for the common well-being of fellow citizens.
Other group members observed awareness creation efforts on HIV prevention for CSW on Dropping Centers. The CSW are also provided confidential clinical services (STI/HIV etc). The beneficiaries are networked with other CSW to share knowledge they acquired at the Dropping Center.
The group which went to Molle Village, West Abaya Woreda observed community mobilization and community involvement in HIV prevention through community conversation. As this effort is implemented and owned by the community, it has a bright feature for sustainability, it was explained.
Another place visited by one group was Shella Village where empowerment of mother support group is practiced. The group of positive mothers are involved in enhancing up take of PMTCT services, promoting health facility based delivery, and follow up on uptake of prophylaxis.
The formal deliberation of the meeting will begin today and continue for the next three days.