Published: 1 December 2009
Statement by Mr Tadateru Konoé, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
"The spread of HIV infections can only be reduced through concerted actions at the community level with active involvement of the affected people", said Mr Tadateru Konoé, newly-elected president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), on the occasion of World Aids Day.
Changing the way people think and act is key to promote healthy life styles. Our network of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers reaches the grass root levels of communities and is in an ideal position to change minds.
Through a home based care approach that is aligned with available resources at health care facilities, Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers are reaching people living with HIV at household levels. They provide counsel, livelihood support, education and support those on anti-retroviral treatment to adhere to their treatment regimen. They also educate household members, neighbours and the community at large to reduce stigma and discrimination and inform them how to prevent HIV infections. This includes advising and supporting pregnant women to undergo testing and to take advantage of services to prevent mother-to-child transmission.
This strategic direction called "the Global Alliance on HIV" is effective because it is based on a public health approach and incorporates systems for strengthening partnerships and performance tracking.
Results of this approach have been encouraging: In 2008 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from 72 countries, who are part of the Global Alliance on HIV, have reached 22.5 million people with prevention messages and supported 260,000 people living with HIV as well as orphans with psychosocial and livelihood support. Globally, 48,000 volunteers have invested 27 million volunteer hours in these activities.
The global effort has helped to stabilize the HIV epidemic in some countries and made life-saving, anti-retroviral treatment available to approximately 42 per cent of people living with HIV. However, much more work remains to be done. The pandemic is projected to continue for the coming decade and, according to the World Health Organization, AIDS-related illnesses will continue to be a significant cause of premature deaths worldwide.
President Konoé stressed that globally little is being done to support orphans and to address gender based inequalities that are fuelling the pandemic. We must do more. He underscored that the IFRC is determined to work hard and to use all available resources to assist the efforts of governments in addressing the challenges of the HIV pandemic.