Feature Story

Civil society provides essential services in the Comoros

30 July 2014

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé recently visited a centre in Moroni that primarily provides antenatal care for pregnant women and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. It is run by the Association comorienne pour le bien-être familial (ASCOBEF), a nongovernmental organization.

At the centre, women have access to health services early in pregnancy and are offered an HIV test so that, if they need it, they can get treatment for themselves and appropriate postnatal care for their infants. The work ASCOBEF does at the centre highlights the critical role that civil society plays in supporting the Government of the Comoros in its response to HIV.

During his visit, Mr Sidibé had the opportunity to meet with members of civil society whose organizations conduct HIV counselling and testing, awareness-raising and community mobilization. They discussed their activities and the challenges they face in providing comprehensive care for people living with HIV, including the limited support they get from other sectors.

“We must not tolerate the shrinking of a democratic space of nongovernmental actors. The role of civil society is essential,” said Mr Sidibé.

Mr Sidibé reiterated the important role of civil society in advocating a human rights approach, especially in the context of the post-2015 development agenda and the rights and gender action that is needed to ensure that no one is left behind.