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Ebony Johnson at the UN (7374209)
© Ebony Johnson at the UN (7374209)

Zambia field visit – Such an eye-opener experience

The sweet, familiar taste of bream fish, the feel of the warm African sun, and the beautiful colors and talents of open markets. I was back in Zambia… open to learning and excited.

Then it became quickly clear that not only were my sweet familiars still the same, but many of the sad stories of Zambia still rang true. Prisons and clinics alike were overcrowded, underfunded, and struggling to meet the medical and social needs of a vast population of people living with HIV, TB, and Malaria. A shortfall of trained medical staff exasperates this condition, paid community workers, and insufficient ARV therapy.

As Zambia has become a middle-income country, many major donor countries have withdrawn support from commodities to funding to invaluable actual human workforce support, weakening the already fragile health and social systems.

Women in Zambia are still without equal pay or fair education and employment opportunities. Homosexual consensual sex still remains a social taboo, penalized and unrecognized as an area where lifesaving HIV interventions are needed. Women living with HIV remain on the margins, often serving only as non-paid volunteers and struggling to supply themselves with multiple informal jobs, including sex work, to maintain basic food and shelter for themselves and their children.

Even among all of the legal, social, political, and funding changes needed to make Zambia the best thing for the vibrant, healthy, and equitable country it has the potential to be… there were some amazing successes already in place to take note of. Just footsteps from Lusaka was a Polish orphanage with nuns that have created an amazing, safe, beautiful, and loving home for countless children living with and affected by HIV, physical disabilities, or other learning disabilities. This amazing center provides free education, HIV treatment and care, stability, and support for the residents from birth till adult independence. All offers to the neighboring communities are free ARVs, parenting classes, childhood education, and support. Donations and volunteers run the orphanage, and it depends on continuing generosity to remain open and fully functional.

Last but certainly not least was the visit to a primary school. There, we saw Zambia’s comprehensive sexual education curriculum being piloted. The young learners were highly engaged as the instructor taught lessons on the reproductive health system and Adolescent Health. The curriculum was shot we to be quite comprehensive, highlighting social drivers that increase vulnerability to HIV, STIs, and unplanned pregnancy, such as peer pressure, gender inequality, and cultural norms. Even more exciting, this dynamic curriculum will be launched nationally in Zambian schools in 2014.

Additionally, the visit allowed us an opportunity to learn about the ongoing partnerships between UN cosponsors, bilateral governments, and donors plan to increase HIV, coordinate ARV services, and support human rights.

Thanks to UNAIDS for including the NGO Delegation in this Zambia Field Visit. It was indeed a gift to observe, learn, and provide feedback.

NGO Delegate of

Blog | 21 November 2013

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Our NGO Delegation

The Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) was created to serve as the governing body of UNAIDS. The PCB includes a Nongovernmental Organization (NGO) Delegation composed of five members and five alternates that represent five geographic regions: Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and North America.

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UNAIDS and the UN

UNAIDS was established in 1994 through a resolution of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and made operational in January 1996.

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