Philippines AIDS Summit- Call to Action for Broad based Responses for HIV/AIDS by Leaders
An AIDS Summit held in Manila Philippines identified the following key agendas for the next three years: strengthen policy and governance; increasing investments to scale up responses; sustain capacity of resources to deliver services; intensifying scale up of coverage to reach most at risk population; evidence based programming and decision making.
The AIDS Summit was held in Manila Philippines on 12 April 2010, organized by the Philippine National AIS Council an attached agency of the Department of Health The Summit was attended by several government agencies, civil society organizations, positive communities, and donor agencies. The Summit was originally proposed by the Catholic groups challenging the government for a face to face debate on HIV prevention sans condom promotion and condom use. The call for a Summit by the Catholic group was triggered by a massive condom distribution activity led by the Department of Health during Valentine's celebration in February and in the succeeding months as part of mobilizing civil society organizations for condom promotion to populations as risk, plus the fact that there is an increasing number of HIV cases among men who have sex with men.
The Summit was a venue and opportunity for the positive community to raise urgent issues and concerns affecting their lives particularly on ARV and OI treatment. The country at the moment is heavily dependent on external sources where 67 percent of funds come from donors like Global Fund, USAID, World Ban, ADB, etc. Domestic source is only 20 percent while private sector contributes only 13 percent.
Currently, ARV is provided for free by the Global Fund to more than 800 Filipinos living with HIV. The Department of Health assured the positive community that ARVs will be provided to all those in need of the treatment until year 2012 and beyond. A concrete treatment investment plan is demanded by the leaders of positive community to make sure that the government will be true to what it had committed.
The Department of Health is now faced with more challenges posed by its partners Two decades in addressing the epidemic, and yet there is nothing different in the approaches and strategies utilized by key stakeholders .For one, policy area should be strengthened and harmonized to address HIV and IDU harm reduction activities. The current law of the country on drug use negates IDU and HIV activities. A person caught with needle and syringe may be apprehended and jailed for having in possession injecting equipment.
Most importantly, Mr Mario Taguiwalo, a consultant and expert on strategic planning and health reforms said that though the country is a low prevalence country with a low number of cases, described the epidemic as rapidly growing. He also cautioned the government and all the stakeholders that the current effort is not enough and given the kind of status and the approaches utilized , the country may have a bigger problem in the near future.
With this word from a Filipino expert, the positive community, particularly Pinoy Plus Association is ready to sit down with the government to discuss, assess, thoroughly develop meaningful approaches to stop further spread of the virus and mitigate the impact on those who are already infected and to the over all economy of the country.
Pinoy Plus Association