Hope for people living with HIV in post-earthquake Nepal

24 Apr 2016 by Bharat Man Shrestha, Former LGBT Human Rights, HIV and Law Officer, UNDP Nepal

Binod Kumar Tamang is receiving health care service at Trishuli Plus, Nuwakot. Photo: UNDP Nepal
A year ago, 20-year old Binod Kumar Tamang found out he was infected with HIV. He lives with his mother in Nuwakot district in the central region of Nepal. When Binod tested positive for HIV, one of the hospital’s staff introduced him to Trishuli Plus, a community-based organization that also serves as a community crisis center. It was established to provide HIV-related health services, support and home-based care for people living with HIV in the district and the surrounding areas. Binod started going to the clinic for treatment and support. After the earthquake struck Nepal last April, Nuwakot district was one of the hardest hit regions. Hospitals and community care centers were among the most affected facilities and many were destroyed. The provision of health services was disrupted, leaving people in need of basic supplies and treatment. … Read more

Laws criminalizing drug possession can cause more harm

20 Apr 2016 by Tenu Avafia, Team Leader, Rights, Law and Treatment Access, HIV, Health and Development and Rebecca Schleifer, Consultant, HIV, Human Rights and the Law

Coca farmers in BoliviaCoca farmers sell coca leaves at a market in Villa 14 de Septiembre village in Bolivia. Photo: Carlos Cazalis/Corbis
In many countries, a criminal record, even for a minor offense, can have serious implications. Being convicted of a crime makes you ineligible for certain jobs, social programmes or benefits or from even being able to exercise your right to vote. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has identified illicit drugs and crime as a “severe impediment” to achieving sustainable development. But poorly devised drug control policies can also be harmful to people and societies. … Read more

Are women and girls more vulnerable to tuberculosis and malaria?

23 Mar 2016 by Caitlin Boyce, Policy Specialist, HIV, Gender, Rights and Development, Health, HIV and Development Group, UNDP

woman at clinicA woman visits a tuberculosis clinic in Iraq. Photo: Safin Hamed/UNDP
Are tuberculosis (TB) and malaria still a widespread threat? Popular belief says no. But, in fact, they are still grave health challenges that need more attention, especially in how they are affected by gender. The World Health Organization recently reported that TB now ranks alongside HIV as the leading cause of death from infectious disease. And the disease has a disproportionate effect on women. Today, TB kills more women globally than any other single infectious disease, and more women die annually from TB than from all causes of maternal mortality combined. Some TB symptoms can also affect men and women in profoundly different ways. For example, women have a higher prevalence of genital TB, which is difficult to diagnose and has been identified as an important cause of infertility in settings with high TB incidence. … Read more

FGM ban begins a pivotal era for women and girls in The Gambia

05 Feb 2016 by Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator in The Gambia

Commemorations for the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting are especially significant for The Gambia this year, following the banning and criminalization of FGM/C. UNICEF photo
In November 2015, the practice of Female Genital Mutilation or Cutting (FGM/C) was banned and subsequently criminalized in The Gambia. This marks an important milestone in the country’s journey to end FGM/C and ensure that the fundamental human rights of girls and women are protected and fulfilled. The achievement places The Gambia proudly among 26 other African countries that have banned FGM/C through legislation. And it comes after years of work to raise awareness among individuals and communities, reinforced by intense advocacy with decision and policy makers. As a result, where FGM/C used to be a taboo, the subject is now openly discussed in Gambian homes and communities. … Read more

Zika is a wake-up call for all of us

03 Feb 2016 by Mandeep Dhaliwal, Director for HIV, Health and Development, UNDP Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

girl receives malaria treatmentA girl receives anti-malaria treatment in Bolivia. Through our partnership with the Global Fund and malaria programmes in nine countries, UNDP can share expertise on multi-dimensional mosquito control responses. Photo: UNDP Bolivia
Yesterday, the World Health Organization declared the spread of the Zika virus a public health emergency of international concern. Unlike other viruses spread through the bite of the Aedes mosquito —such as dengue, yellow fever, or chikungunya — the Zika virus often went unnoticed and was considered a mild tropical disease with most virus carriers being symptomless. Yet Brazil recently found itself in the throes of an unprecedented Zika outbreak — with more than a million people infected — and an unusually high number of babies born with microcephaly. There is growing international consensus, although not yet definitive proof, that the virus has potentially catastrophic implications for infected pregnant women and their unborn children, as well as possible links to other serious neurological conditions. Experts believe that environmental destruction caused the Zika virus to infect humans and is fuelling its dramatic spread through the Americas. … Read more

Ending AIDS: it takes more than two and a half men

01 Dec 2015 by Ludo Bok, Team leader, Development effectiveness, HIV, Health & Development Group, UNDP

two men setting up AIDS candlesThe All Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV lay out candles during a World AIDS day commemoration. Photo: UNDP
The media has gone crazy over the disclosure of the HIV status of one of America's most controversial stars, Charlie Sheen. Much of the reporting has been sensationalist, focusing on his multiple marriages and struggles with substance abuse. The majority of it has been dominated by prejudice and moral finger-wagging. Social media went into overdrive, as #Charliesheen trended around the world. Responses have been mixed, with reactions ranging from admiration for his very public coming out to speculation about how he contracted the virus and the vilification of sex workers. It also sparked discussions around confidentiality, blackmail and the legal implications of not disclosing his HIV status to his ex-partners. … Read more

Ending LGBTI discrimination is key to achieving SDGs

29 Sep 2015 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

Transgender activists in BrazilTransgender activists in downtown Porto Alegre, Brazil, during a mobilization campaign for civil registry change and LGBT rights. Photo: Daniel de Castro/UNDP Brazil.
The recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals embody a powerful commitment to achieving a life of dignity for all. This includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. That's why we at UNDP are pleased to join in the UN statement on ending violence and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. … Read more

Amidst crisis, helping mothers and newborn to embrace life

15 Sep 2015 by Rasha Al-Shargabi, Field Manager, Youth Economic Empowerment Programme, UNDP in Yemen

two Yemeni womenA future midwife is training in filling out assessment forms as part of a national midwife association training on community mapping. Photo: Rasha Alshargabi/UNDP Yemen
Four-year-old Mohammed caught my eye with his naughty looks and the great amount of happiness housed his little body. I was amused watching him play with other children in the open ground in his village in Alsilw district, Taizz. Only later did I learn that his mother died during labor due to a lack of health care services. I thought of how the world would be for a little child without a mother nurturing him. … Read more

From neglect to respect: Changing Georgia's mental health approach

15 Sep 2015 by Lisa Lenz, Democratic governance intern, UNDP in Georgia

hospitalPsychiatric hospital in Tbilisi. Photo: Melissa Stonehill/UNDP
Visiting a psychiatric clinic can leave a lasting impression. I had the opportunity to visit a psychiatric hospital in Tbilisi to meet the doctors and experts taking part in designing a national reform of mental healthcare in Georgia. The first thing I noticed was the hospital’s size. The huge concrete building looked left over from the Soviet era. Even after entering, it seemed more like an administrative center than a hospital housing more than 150 patients. … Read more

An AIDS-free generation was simply unimaginable

01 Sep 2015 by Kazuyuki Uji, Policy Specialist, HIV, Health and Inclusive Development, Bangkok Regional Hub, UNDP

community activistsIn Asia, the community of people living with HIV contributed to achieving the MDG 6 targets of halting and reversing the spread of HIV and putting 15 million people on HIV treatment by 2015. Photo: UNDP/Kazuyuki Uji
In this blog series, UNDP experts and practitioners share their experiences and views on working with the Millennium Development Goals. On 14 July 2015, the UN Secretary General made a historical announcement: “Together, we have achieved and exceeded the AIDS-related targets of Millennium Development Goal 6... [W]e are on our way to an AIDS-free generation.” This was simply unimaginable around the period I joined UNDP in early 2000’s when HIV was still thriving in Asia and HIV treatment was a luxury for the privileged few. … Read more