UNDP, Philippines take aim at HIV through local leaders
Manila — The U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) and the Philippine government are working together to address the Southeast Asian country’s rising number of new HIV cases, scaling up outreach and intervention based on local leadership.
The United Nations alerted the government in 2008 that Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 6—halting or reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS—was least likely to be achieved by 2015.
The following year, the United Nations and the government launched a three-year programme called “Promoting Leadership and Mitigating the Negative Impacts of HIV and AIDS on Human Development.”
This partnership has so far aided more than 200 local government units, provided HIV and AIDS orientation to more than 1,000 local government officials, and engaged more than 250 local HIV/AIDS activists across 17 regions in the Philippines. Some 100 local AIDS coordinating bodies, such as local AIDS councils, have been established and strengthened and 44 local HIV policies developed.
“UNDP wanted to be a little bit different and look at HIV in a holistic way, from a governance perspective, which is a real UNDP niche, and to look at leadership issues especially at the local level,” UNDP Philippines Country Director Renaud Myer said. “We also try to identify governors or mayors who take a stand on HIV publicly and then we go and provide them with direct assistance.”
The programme supports and strengthens sustainable local AIDS responses by developing leadership capacities of local governments and establishing Regional AIDS Assistance Teams. These comprise representatives from the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Department of Health, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
“Local governments are in a better position to craft a more effective strategy because they know their area, they know how communities would handle this problem, and the kinds of vulnerabilities in their areas,” said Austere Panadero, Under Secretary for Local Government at the Department of Interior and Local Government and Vice-Chair of the Philippine National AIDS Council.
According to a 2010 UNAIDS report, the Philippines is one of only seven countries worldwide reporting an increase of more than 25 percent in new infections since 2001.
“There has been great improvement in the last two years with regards to localizing the response to HIV and AIDS,” Dr. Ferchito Avelino, executive director of the Philippine National AIDS Council Secretariat, said.