The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) have today signed a Memorandum of Understanding committing to a closer partnership to support the implementation of UNAIDS’ Treatment 2015 initiative and develop a community model for delivering better access to HIV treatment.
By the end of 2012, around 10 million people had access to the lifesaving treatment. However, new guidelines issued by the World Health Organization in 2013 recommend starting treatment much earlier and immediately in some cases. Under these new guidelines – in at least 14 countries in Africa – 80 per cent or more of those eligible for treatment are getting it too late, or not at all.
Research suggests that antiretroviral therapy has prevented 6.3 million AIDS-related deaths worldwide from 1996 to 2012.
A vast network of volunteers
“The time to act is now if we are to prevent many more deaths,” said Bekele Geleta, Secretary General, IFRC. “The community health workforce has the capacity to provide almost 40 per cent of HIV-related services. And community-led initiatives are key to expanding and sustaining access to life-saving testing and treatment.” The IFRC has programmes ongoing in Malawi, Kenya and Nigeria.
The community health workforce is the backbone of effective HIV care and support programmes and plays an invaluable service delivery role. In Mozambique, after a community support programme involving self-forming patient groups was rolled out to complement services provided by clinical centres, the two-year retention rates climbed to 98 per cent. In Tanzania , a model of antiretroviral delivery by community volunteers linked to trained medical workers has led to fewer patients missing their follow up treatment.
“Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers deliver health services to millions, including some of the most marginalized people in hard-to-reach communities,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “By supporting the volunteers, engaging people living with HIV and strengthening community-based services I strongly believe we will be able to exceed the target of reaching 15 million people with treatment by 2015.”
Into the light
Into the light from IFRC on Vimeo.
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