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Campaign to build HIV/AIDS response capacity in Yemen - Progressio brings in four international experts to share experiences on full-time basis in Yemen target areas (Local).

SANA'A, Sept. 16 -- IRIN. The Sanaa office of the international development charity Progressio is trying to build up capacity among four local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with the aim of helping them respond to HIV/AIDS.

Funded by the Irish government and Progressio, the three-and-a-half-year project began in January 2007 in the governorates of al-Hudeidah, Aden, Sanaa and Taiz.

Progressio has brought in four international experts to share their experiences on a full-time basis in the target areas.

Abdulla al-Syari, country representative of Progressio in Yemen, said: "The four local NGOs will fully phase in to HIV and AIDS project planning, implementing, managing and executing with the skills they gained from Progressio development workers. They will act as local resource organisations cutting out dependency on foreign experts, although this may take a little time," he told IRIN/PlusNews.

Abdulla said over 1,000 people - including educators from vulnerable communities, NGO staff members and people living with HIV/AIDS - would be trained by the experts.

Others "like imams preaching in mosques, journalists creating awareness in the media and peer educators educating through interpersonal education in their respective communities," would also benefit, he said.

Local capacities not strong

Irfan Akhtar, HIV/AIDS coordinator at Progressio, told IRIN/PlusNews that local capacity to respond to emerging HIV/AIDS issues was "not really strong".

"We also seek to build the capacity of people living with HIV. There are people living with HIV who don't have a voice. They feel isolated and that they are discriminated against. So we are working to increase their participation in HIV programmes," he said.

"They [people living with HIV] should be at the centre of any well-meaning programme," he said.

Progressio held the first training of trainers for 21 people living with HIV in March 2008 in Sanaa city. "Increasing their participation means giving them opportunities in planning and implementation," he said.

Abdul-Hafed al-Ward, secretary-general of the Integral Care Association for People living with HIV, said there was a need to increase the number of local NGOs dealing with HIV/AIDS and qualify them in this regard. The insufficient numbers of local NGOs dealing with HIV/AIDS issues leads to stigma and discrimination directed at people living with the virus, he said.

" The lack of NGOs dealing with HIV/AIDS issues contributes to making the situation of people living with HIV as it is: they do not enjoy their rights, medical and health services, prevention and consultation, and qualification," he said.

Al-Ward's association is the only local association in Yemen that is fully dedicated to deal with HIV/AIDS issues. People living with HIV make up 90 percent of the association's administrative board.

This year in May, the government of Yemen and UN Development Programme office in Sanaa signed a three-year programme to develop national capacities to address HIV/AIDS. Funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, the programme cost US$ 10.6 million. The programme also aimed to build national capacity in the health and non-health sectors to address HIV/AIDS issue through increasing awareness activities in the community.

According to the latest statistics of the National Programme for Combating AIDS, there were 2,431 registered cases of HIV/AIDS in Yemen....

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Publication:Yemen Times (Sana'a, Yemen)
Date:Feb 8, 2009
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