IFRC launches 21 million Swiss francs HIV/AIDS programme for five countries in West and Central Africa

Published: 22 July 2008

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is appealing for 21 million Swiss francs (US$ 20.6 million / euro 13 million, 8.5 billion CFA francs) to finance a new three-year programme to boost the HIV work of Red Cross societies in Burkina-Faso, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea and Nigeria.

The new community-based programme, which will run from 2008 to 2010, is part of the IFRC's Global Alliance on HIV that was launched earlier this month in West and Central Africa. It plans to reach 950,000 vulnerable people, including 10,000 orphans, 49,000 people living with HIV and 13,000 sex workers. Activities include prevention, home-based care, anti-discrimination work and an increase in the capacities of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies to implement HIV-related programmes.

"As other regions in Sub-Saharan Africa, West and Central Africa is facing the disastrous consequences of HIV. Even though the impact may vary from one country to another, HIV is a major obstacle to development as it affects all key sectors: the economy, health, education and even food security," explains Abdourahmane Ndiaye, IFRC's HIV programme officer for the Sahel countries.

Dr Mukesh Kapila, IFRC's Special Representative on HIV, says: "Our programme in West and Central Africa provides exceptionally good value for money.

"It is delivered by dedicated volunteers living in the very same communities as their clients. Thus, the money invested reaches those in need by the most direct route. We also focus our efforts on people in the most risky and vulnerable circumstances so as to make the vital difference in terms of reducing further HIV spread."

Based on UNAIDS statistics, the IFRC estimates that - of the global total of around 33.6 million people living with HIV - nearly 4.5 million, including some 400,000 children aged below 14 years, are living in the five countries involved in the first phase of the programme.

In 2006, some 350,000 people died of AIDS in these five countries, which are also home to nearly 1.9 million orphans due to AIDS. Prevalence rates range from 1.5 per cent in Guinea to more than ten per cent in Central African Republic. Another key factor is that twice as many young adult women in the region are infected by HIV than men.