HIV/AIDS at 12 cases

THE number of cases of HIV/AIDS in Vanuatu has now reached 12.

This was revealed at an important consultative meeting held on Thursday in Vila conducted by the Director Public Health, Len Tarivonda.

He made it clear that two had died a few years ago, leaving eight cases; four from Tanna which are recent, two from Santo and two from Efate.

Women’s advocates have questioned why people were not made aware of the increase until now.

“What is so secret about the information when we remember that back in 2006/2007 when our first person was officially declared (Mrs Irene Malachi and her child) she was demoralised, stigmatised, and lost almost all her rights as a human being,” said Jenny Ligo.

Mrs Ligo, chairwoman of Women Against Crime and Corruption (WACC) and coordinator for PAM ‘Pro-Active Mamas’ and Manina Pakette, vice chair lady of the National Crime Prevention Advisory Committee told The Independent of their concerns about figures being hidden.

Both women, who are doing significant voluntary work in partnership with various Non Government Organisations (NGOs), raised their grave concerns as to why relevant authorities are not undertaking multiple awareness/advocacies to alert people about the danger of this disease.

“We call on our relevant authorities to come out publicly and make an official declaration like there was been the case of Mrs Malakai. For us it is not fair. She was stigmatised then,” they said.

“Now it is time the national government and the health authorities to consider to prepare and put in place shelters for people living with HIV/AIDS. We need to take pro-active measures now.”

In a recent interview with the local media, Timothy Vatu from the Central Hospital was calling on everyone in Vanuatu to go for a HIV/AIDS test at Vila Central Hospital (VCH).

“Till now we could say that other people in Vanuatu have HIV/AIDS, before they have not been tested either negative or positive, unless all went through the appropriate test,” he said.

He also urged people not to be ashamed but to go for the test which is free of charge.
“Any particular information about everyone with the test will be kept confidential.”

The consultative meeting this week was held to review and discuss Vanuatu’s progress on the three target diseases which are funded by the Global Fund grants – malaria, TB, and HIV/AIDS.

Many of the 13 organisations represented at the meeting are engaged directly or indirectly in activities relating to these three diseases.

The current Global Fund cycle for the three diseases will end in 2017.

Meanwhile, Vanuatu through the Ministry of Health, is in the process of submitting proposals for the continuation of funding in the next grant period – 2018 to 2020.

Hence, the main objective of this meeting was to discuss with stakeholders (key members of communities, civil society organisations and others) how to continue to progress and sustain their achievements against the three target diseases in Vanuatu beyond 2017.

In particular, to explore how to implementation of the three programs can be better contextualised and tailored in future to involve and include key affected populations as well as key stakeholders.


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