Feature story

Revitalizing community mobilization for universal access in West and Central Africa

21 August 2009

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Participants at the regional consultation organized by the UNAIDS Regional Support Team, in collaboration with three regional civil society networks (AfriCASO, International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ENDA Santé) in Dakar from 11 to 14 August 2009. Credit: UNAIDS

Thirty civil society organizations involved in the HIV response in West and Central Africa (WCA) identified six priority areas for action to accelerate the movement towards universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support in the region. This decision was the outcome of a regional consultation organized by the UNAIDS Regional Support Team, in collaboration with three regional civil society networks (AfriCASO, International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ENDA Santé) in Dakar from 11 to 14 August 2009.

The consultation was an opportunity to define concrete actions to be taken in the West and Central African region to achieve universal access targets and Millennium Development Goals considering the central role played by civil society organizations in the response to AIDS.

Over four days, the consultation brought together representatives of regional and national networks of people living with HIV, women, youth, religious leaders, parliamentarians, media, traditional practitioners, human rights associations, people with disabilities, trade unions, men who have sex with men, international NGOs involved in the HIV response as well UN system representatives.

Despite significant efforts in recent years made by countries to improve the response to the epidemic, participants underscored that many challenges remain to be addressed by all stakeholders to accelerate the movement towards universal access in West and Central Africa. Participants committed to coordinate their efforts towards the following six priority areas: Sustainable funding of the AIDS response; integration of HIV, tuberculosis and sexual and reproductive health services; improving the legal and societal framework; access to treatment and accelerating prevention; access to prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission services; and innovation, communication and partnership.

For example, only 11% of pregnant women requiring services to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission have access to them and only 25% of people living with HIV in need of antiretroviral drugs have access to treatment. The participants underlined that the quality and coverage of services and interventions targeting most-at-risk populations need to improve in most of the region. They noted the urgency to support countries in adopting laws protecting human rights that guarantee access to HIV services for all and provide effective protection for the most-at-risk populations. Participants also highlighted the urgent need to integrate HIV services into the tuberculosis programmes.

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