AIDS responses in post-conflict Sierra Leone
12 June 2007
The decade long brutal civil war in Sierra Leone was officially declared over in 2002. But in a country which is ranked 176 out of 177 in the Human Development Index*, the government is confronted with many different priorities all equally important (energy, infrastructure, health, education, water and sanitation) and all competing for the limited resources available.
In 2005, HIV prevalence in Sierra Leone was at 1.6%, but in the post-conflict reconstruction of Sierra Leone, the response to the AIDS epidemic came far down the list of priorities.
In a bid to strengthen the response to AIDS in the country UNAIDS established an office in Freetown in January of 2005 which helped pave the way for HIV to be mainstreamed into development instruments and forums such as the Poverty Reduction Strategy, the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, the Development Partners’ Committee and Donors’ Consultative Group meetings.
Through the institutional support provided to the National AIDS Secretariat (NAS), the first costed national strategic plan (2006-10) which provided the basis for coordinating the work of all partners was formulated, validated and launched.
Improved capacities of NAS to better plan and program coupled with timely submission of requests for replenishment of funds enhanced the implementation of the World Bank funded HIV Project (SHARP). As a result, additional financial resources were leveraged from the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to scale up access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support (phase two round four and round six amounting to US$ 36 million).
This additional funding helped strengthen the promotion, support and coordination of activities addressing HIV among populations of humanitarian concern including armed and uniformed groups, migrants and mobile populations.
The government and the private sector are now gradually becoming more involved and have formed a Parliamentarian Committee on HIV and the Multi Disciplinary Task Force that are spearheading a draft bill that recognizes, promotes and protects the rights of people living with HIV. The Chamber of Commerce of Chief Executive Officers/Managers has also set up a project to work on the challenges HIV poses to their businesses and the importance of their involvement in the national AIDS response.
With the establishment of the UN Joint Team on AIDS, the Expanded Technical Working Group and the United Nations Theme Group on HIV, a more coherent and coordinated United Nations’ support to the government is being harnessed.
*The Human Development Index provides a composite measure of three dimensions of human development: living a long and healthy life (measured by life expectancy), being educated (measured by adult literacy and enrolment at the primary, secondary and tertiary level) and having a decent standard of living (measured by purchasing power parity, PPP, income)
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