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Liberia Holds Dialogue On HIV/AIDS Response By 2019
MONROVIA, November 2 (LINA) - A multi-stakeholder dialogue has reviewed a draft emergency plan to scale-up HIV/AIDS response in Liberia to reach UNAIDS’ 90-90-90 targets in 2020 and end AIDS as a public health threat in line with the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
The dialogue was held November 1 in Monrovia with support from the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in collaboration with Liberia’s National AIDS Commission (NAC), the National AIDS/STIs Control Program (NACP) and other partners active in the HIV Sector, including People Living with HIV and AIDS and CSO networks.
The development and review of the Emergency Planis based on the MSF’s report on the AIDS response in the West and Central Africa region, published in April pointed out that the Region is behind the progress as testified at the global level.
Only 29 per cent of People Living with HIV and AIDS in the West and Central Africa region has access to antiretroviral treatment whereas this coverage is at 54 per cent in East and Central Africa.
Liberia HIV prevalence, according to the country’s Demography and Health Surveillance survey, is 1.9 percent in the general population with the South Central Region, which includes Montserrado, Margibi and Grand Bassa counties, accounting for the highest prevalence of 2.7 percent among the five regions.
Major barriers which tend to hinder access to quality care and treatment services highlighted by government include week ownership, coordination, and low domestic funding of the response to HIV.
It also includes weak health and community systems; weak procurement and supply management system; lack of clear memorandum of understand for free HIV services compounded by widespread imposing user fees from healthcare settings and other out-of-pocket cost; high levels of stigma and discrimination and complex relationship with external donors.
The current Emergency plan is focused on country ownership and political leadership; re-configured service delivery; uninterrupted commodity supply at the last mile (Test Kits, Antiretroviral Drugs, Early Infant Diagnosis and Viral Load Kits); and resources.
Speaking on behalf of the government during the opening of the dialogue, Madam Jessie Duncan, NAC Decentralization Commissioner, said the development of the emergency plan is necessary because it will provide a broader strategy for accelerated country approach to meeting global targets of HIV reduction.
“We kindly request you to provide us your comments and suggestions on the Liberia’s emergency plan for scaling- up the HIV and AIDS response in the country,” Commissioner Duncan averred.
Dr. Betru Woldesemayat, UNAIDS Country Director, noted that HIV response in West Africa is below expectation according to MSF.
MSF says 29 percent of PLHIV in the region having access to antiretroviral treatment whereas this coverage is at 54 per cent in East and Central Africa is not a good news for the region.
“I am very happy to form part of this history marking endeavor and hope Liberia could have an Emergency plan to drive speedy response to HIV soon in this great West African nation,” Dr. Woldesemayat emphasized.
At the end of the dialogue, participants agreed that further meetings will be convened with all stakeholders to finalize and endorse the Emergency Plan.