Public Health Ministry pledges to build on Community based HIV/AIDS interventions

As Advancing Partners and Communities (APC) Project comes to an end

DPI, Guyana, Friday, July 26, 2019

The Ministry of Public Health has committed to working with key stakeholders on HIV/AIDS initiatives to reach targeted populations. This is after the Advancing Partners and Community (APC) Project came to after a six-year run – 2013 to 2019.

At the closing ceremony of the six-year project, Minister of Public Health, Hon. Volda Lawrence pledged to build on the successes realised from this project to effectively reach the ministry’s goal. She indicated that the ministry has already been working through the National AIDS programme to meet targets related to HIV/AIDS.

“In light of the reduction of donor funding, the government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana was proactive by putting systems in place to invest in the work of NGOs. This was done via social contracting where through domestic funds we will be able to utilise it to continue the work started by APC in Region 4,” the minister explained

Region 4 is the primary area targetted, since data from APC’s evaluation shows the coastal region as the most populated and with the highest disease burden. The target groups for HIV/AIDS interventions are female sex workers, men who have sex with men and the transgender population

The ACP Project was introduced by USAID to advance and support programmes and initiatives to improve overall health specifically in the area of HIV/AIDS. The project provided technical assistance for local Non-Government Organisations, Faith-Based Organisations and Community-Based Organisations. It implemented activities that are evidence-based, cost-effective and efficiently designed to reduce transmission and impact of HIV/AIDS.

Since the time of the project’s operation, APC has worked with Artistes in Direct Support and Guyana Trans-United, NGOs to ensure that it reaches the specified target groups. This has been done through an integrated community response, in support of the Public Health Ministry’s response to HIV/AIDs in Guyana.

During the project period, 30,062 persons were reached and tested for HIV with 424 persons diagnosed with the virus. Also, the activities of the project were extended beyond HIV/AIDS initiatives and looked at gender-based violence and Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity along with eliminating stigma and discrimination attached to HIV/AIDS.

“The APC was also instrumental in the revision of the National Stigma and Discrimination policy document and made several recommendations some of which are currently being implemented by the Ministry of Public Health so APC will be in our public health system long after you have gone,” Minister Lawrence added.

Among many highlights, the minister noted that the data gathered by the APC will now become useful to her ministry. “During these last two fiscal years the relationship between the APC, the NGOs and the government strengthened specifically for the ministry of Public Health through innovative techniques and reviews and updates in tools used by the NGOs and today we have significant data that we can go forward with.”

US Ambassador to Guyana, HE Sarah-Ann Lynch, who also attended the closing ceremony, noted the role of USAID’s role in implementing the ACP in Guyana and how it has helped the country achieve specific targets

Further, she commended the synergies that have developed, coming out of APC’s work over the years. “In recent years there has been a marked shift by the Ministry of Public Health and National AID committees to proactively engage community-based organisations in the fight against HIV/AIDS,” the US ambassador said.

Ambassador Lynch encouraged the health ministry to “keep up the good work so that the gains made through this partnership, over the years, are not lost but rather form the solid foundation on which to build and achieve Guyana’s first AIDS-free generation.”