Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Africa, has been called to work together to support their governments in mobilising citizens to fight the scourge of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria on the continent.
Mr Allan Rogi, Executive Director of the Kenyan NGOs Consortium (KANCO), told the Ghana News Agency in an interview in Nairobi, that the scourge of the three diseases could only be addressed when citizens are mobilized, educated, and provided the needed services to help them survive.
Mr Rogi was speaking to the GNA at the end of the 4th Annual Anglophone Civil Society and Community Group Learning and Experience Sharing forum, held in Nairobi, Kenya under the theme: Achieving the Global Fund’s Objectives by Enhancing Community Engagement in Anglophone Africa: Lessons learned and opportunities for the Future”.
The aim of the forum, hosted by the Eastern Africa National Network of AIDS and Health Service Organizations (EANNASO), was to have a regional response that contributed to effective halting and reversing of the trends of the AIDS epidemics, tuberculosis and malaria in Africa.
Over 80 participants from more than 25 African countries, including representatives of the Non-State Actors - Ghana, attended the two-day forum organised in collaboration with KANCO and the Global Fund.
Mr Rogi said: “I think the reasons why we need to work as one family, and as one continent, is that having HIV is not somebody’s choice, secondly, if we do differentiated approaches, we are likely to win. If we keep some people away, we will always be struggling.
“Even though some in the key population, either those who use drugs, or men having sex with men, or gays or lesbians, they do what they do, they are part of us and we cannot afford to discriminate.
“You may not like them but the choice is, they are our brothers and sisters and we don’t have much choice -they are part of the society as well. They should be supported so that we keep away this epidemic.
“Whether I’m a Kenyan or a Ghanaian, a straight or married or a young man or woman, I’m still part of the society. If we don’t support them, we will still emerge into new epidemics, which you know is now being driven by young people”, Mr Rogi said.
He said it was healthy people that impact communities and nations, and so CSOs must continue to engage all people, especially, key and vulnerable populations and provide them the needed services for sustainability.
Mrs Cecelia Senoo, President of NSA- Ghana, in a presentation, said although Ghana was making a lot of inroads in fighting HIV, there were still issues of societal stigma and discrimination from service providers, and self-stigma among persons living with HIV.
She said there were, however, trained paralegals who were assisting and providing KPs with pro-bono services when needed.
She said emerging human rights issues were being integrated into the curriculum of Nursing and Policing for them to be able to deal with such human right issues.
Ms Olive Mumba, Executive Director of EANASSO, urged the CSOs to continue to increase communities and society’s understanding on human rights, and gender equality among countries.
She thanked the Global Fund for partnering in organising the meeting to educate the participants on the new procedures and processes in accessing it grants next year as it entered it new phase of funding and investment in the three diseases.
At the end of the forum, all the participants agreed on the need for Africa to increase efforts at reducing new HIV infections, which kept increasing, the need to invest in adolescents programming and services to help reduce the diseases, as well as to eradicate stigma and discrimination among people living with HIV and TB.