Thursday, 10 October 2013
AU discusses with stakeholders on HIV interventions
in AU Peace Support Operations
A three-day joint consultative workshop on HIV interventions in AU Peace Support Operations (PSOs), kicks off today 8thOctober 2013, at the African Union New Conference Centre, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Organized by the AU Medical Services Directorate (AUMSD) and the Peace and Security Directorate of the African Union Commission, (AUC) in collaboration with the International Labor Office (ILO) and Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the workshop is aiming to get all stakeholders to a consultative meeting in order to deliberate and agree on the best strategies for mainstreaming HIV into the different stages of AU Peace Support Operations (PSOs).
Highlighting the importance of the subject of the joint consultative workshop, Dr Yankuba Kassama, AUMSD Director, said in his welcoming remarks that AU recognizes that the impact of the spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic is more profound in conditions of violence and instability as is the case in conflict and post-conflict situations. "With the AU increasingly undertaking PSOs, implementing its HIV workplace policy and developing procedures and infrastructure to address HIV within its Mission area is a priority" he added.
UNAIDS representative for AU and UNECA Rosemary Museminali stressed in her opening remarks the need to strengthen the partnership and collaboration among all partners under the leadership of the AUC to mitigate the impact of the AIDS Epidemic on the African Union peace support operations as well as the host community they intervene in.
The representative of the Director, Peace and Security (AUC), Group Captain Seth Fianya, in his opening remarks emphasized the need to have an open and frank discussion on the management challenges in the security services, highlighting the potentials and limits of existing HIV and AIDS policies in Africa's security services sector.
"The meeting will explore the dynamics of how the security sector services of AU Troop and Police contributing countries have responded, or are currently responding to the complex and multifaceted challenges of HIV and AIDS", He said .
Speaking earlier, Mr. Hans Hofmejer, Acting Regional Director ILO, noting thatstrengthening and mainstreaming interventions to help prevent and combat HIV and AIDS in AU PSOs should have started much earlier. He added that the draft protocol will be a huge step forward in the fight against HIV/AIDS in AU PSOs. However, he reminds the meeting to be "mindful of other health challenges that peacekeepers face in the course of carrying out their duties. We should not pride ourselves for saving a life from HIV/AIDS but loses it to malaria or unsafe working conditions when we can take the necessary measures to prevent this at little incremental cost" he emphasized.
The workshop will discuss, among other, policies and practices from the Troop contributing countries, United Nations Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA) and AMISOM, mainstreaming HIV in peace-keeping operations (the international perspectives), existing programmatic frameworks: the Health Manual for PSOs, the AU HIV/AIDS workplace policy, the Abuja Declaration.
At the end of its deliberations, the Workshop is expected to result in an agreed upon protocol on how HIV will be mainstreamed at all levels of AU PSOs in line with the AU HIV and AIDS Workplace Policy, and recommendations for a comprehensive plan for key HIV interventions at the AU PSOs before, during and after deployment, that is best suited to the needs of AU PS contingents with appropriate monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.
The Workshop was attended by directors and officials of Medical Services from AU Troop and Police contributing countries, AUC, ILOAIDS and UNAIDS officials, United Nations Department for Peace Keeping Operations (UNDPKO), World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations African Union Mission in Dafur (UNAMID), United Nations Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA).