In Country Advocacy Meeting Organized By The APLHIV-Pakistan In Islamabad On 29th May 2014

A national stakeholder’s workshop was conducted by Association of People living with HIV/AIDS, on 29 May, 2014, at Margalla Hotel, Islamabad. Workshop was attended by 57 participants from across the country and representing all the stakeholders including Federal and provincial government departments, UN agencies, Paramedic Staff, Service Providers, Community Leaders, HIV Activists and Media People. The purpose of the workshop was to share the findings of the CAT study, identify the areas of concern for the community and suggest a way forward to address these areas of concern with identified responsible stakeholders and time line. The workshop also provided a vibrant platform to make an action plan to implement the recommendations of the CAT study at national level to improve the access of community to treatment, care and support services. All the participants contributed to the activity through answer question session, their comments, discussion at sub group level, finalizing and presenting the action plan at sub group level.

The National Coordinator Asghar Satti, Project Coordinator Uzair Tariq with the support of consultant Dr. Safdar Kamal Pasha Prepared a central presentation representing the work of all sub groups. Later this presentation was reviewed and priority areas worked out to prepare an action plan with identified responsible stakeholders to ensure the implementation of the recommendations of the CAT study. The work plan also suggested to formulate an oversight committee to review the implementation progress on quarterly level and through midterm reviews. The action plan has been shared with all the participants and responsible organizations.

The salient features of action plan includes developing skills of health care providers, building capacity of community based workers, holding a national level conference to discuss the issues related to HIV, use of media as an advocacy tool, initiation of advocacy campaign at national level, sensitization of parliamentarians, related ministries, law enforcing agencies, judges, prosecutors and religious leaders. The action plan also emphasis on integrated HIV-HCV-TB treatment, community based monitoring, decentralization of treatment centers, enhancing gender equity, reducing violence & coercion, initiation of health insurance schemes, use of mobile phones for ART adherence, switching over to fix doze combination, initiation of OST services for drug users & enhanced ownership by the federal & respective provincial governments. UNAIDS, National AIDS Control Program (NACP), Provincial AIDS Control Program (PACPs) and the APLHIV have been assigned the task to ensure the implementation of this action plan during next one year.

The workshop, organized by APLHIV, eventuated into a national gathering of public and private sectors, civil society and HIV/AIDS community from across the country, probably for the first time. This was a vibrant platform to build the momentum for advocacy and paved the way to strategic discussion as well as direction, in the area of HIV treatment in the country, with obvious commitments and support by the key stakeholders.

National Program Manager of National AIDS Control Program and deputy secretary ministry of health regulation was the chief guest in opening session who highly appreciated the APLHIV for providing such a vibrant platform. The National Coordinator welcomed the participants and thanked them for sparing time to show solidarity with HIV community by attending this gathering. Project Coordinator Uzair Tariq shared the key findings and recommendations of the study with participants. Answer/ question session was dealt by the National Coordinator followed by detailed working at sub group level. Each group after thorough deliberations and brainstorming presented their action plan.

After finalizing a presentation at central level, participants from each of the organization were asked to share their views about the proceedings of the day. Some of the views are included as below:

  1. Punjab AIDS Control Program: “A vibrant gathering with impressive methodology to determine the future of the community for which the APLHIV, its leadership and project staff deserve special compliments”.
  2. KP AIDS Control Program: “This meeting with organized efforts and inputs shall enable an improve access of community to treatment, care & support services. Today’s work has reshaped the response of national network to the epidemic.”
  3. Sindh AIDS Control Program: “The APLHIV shall rightly expect a big clap for getting all the stakeholders from all over the country at one platform with a focus to improve the accessibility of community to various services. It is pleasing to note that APLHIV has focused on to the issues of the community especially where the infrastructure is not compatible.”
  4. Baluchistan AIDS Control Program: “It was a pleasing surprise for me to note that the issues of HIV community from Baluchistan have been fully focused and I am optimistic that by implementing the suggested action plan. The community in Baluchistan shall have improved services available. The credit is for the team at APLHIV to take initiative in this regard.”
  5. Director PIMS ART Center: “I am working in ART center since 5 years but have never seen the amount of efforts that any organization has put in as the present leadership and the team at the APLHIV has done to provide dignified life to the community. To me the stigma and discrimination has gone down considerably in last one and half year due to the work APLHIV (this is my personal view as an ART Doctor).”
  6. UNICEF: “Clearly the Association is long out of the crises and empowerment of the community is proceeding with a leading role of the current leadership and the team at the APLHIV.”
  7. UNAIDS: “Asghar and his team have build up formidable capacity which is truly reflected in today’s gathering. It is something which is beyond my expectations. I appreciated the clarity of thoughts, energy and resourcefulness that the APLHIV has with its current leadership.”
  8. CCM: “Clearly the APLHIV is in safe and good hands and I look forward to more innovation and meeting more challenges with same spirits and zeal.”

The closing session was chaired by director UNAIDS country office for Pakistan and Afghanistan who speaking on the occasion highly appreciated the contribution made by the APLHIV in taking an initiative to gather the stakeholders to develop an action plan at national level- 1st of the kind of its activity at national level. He applauded the vision and services of the National Coordinator Mr. Asghar Satti to reshape the approach towards HIV at national level. He also gave away the souvenirs to the participants and best performance certificate to the Project Coordinator Uzair Tariq.

The participants from the government sector assured of their full support to APLHIV to carry forward the move and initiative to implement the recommendation of CAT study and also desired a close collaboration with the APLHIV in this regard.

At the end Mr. Satti thanked the participant for sparing the time to attend the meeting and to offer a valuable contribution. He thanked the role of all the partners throughout the process. Special word of thanks and compliments was offered to the team at the APN+ including Mr.Shiba, Manager GMU Mr.Sushil and GMU team for their continued support, guidance and for providing the opportunity for such a vibrant activity.

Later hard copies of the report have been sent to Supreme Court of Pakistan, Federal Ministries of Interior, Narcotics Control, Law, Justice, Human Rights, planning development & reforms, Health, National Assembly, The Senate and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

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