Delivered by Lucy Wanjiku Njenga, NGO Africa, on behalf of the NGO Delegation
Thank you Chair.
In dealing with the dual epidemics of HIV and COVID-19, it is encouraging to see Cosponsors standing with communities and UNAIDS in countries, to address the challenges and inequalities exacerbated by the situation. In my country, Kenya, I have seen the UNAIDS country office take on the challenge and work to address the needs of people living with HIV to ensure that continuity of services is not disrupted to unmanageable levels. Provision of hygiene packs and foodstuff for the most vulnerable households of people living with HIV is catered for to go through these difficult times. In some countries, UN Women launched the Shadow Pandemic Campaign to raise awareness on Violence against women and girls during COVID-19 and urge countries to ensure safety measures.
However, even with these interventions, the threat of losing the gains made is a thorn in the flesh. People living with HIV around the world have been affected when the lockdowns and movement restrictions were initiated without prior warning. Dispensing of medication has decreased. Some, especially mothers who have the burden of getting food for their children, stopped taking their medication as the scarcity of food affects their adherence. We need to do more and work with community-based organisations in getting foodstuff and medication to people living with HIV where they are. Still some members of our constituency find it impossible to have the information on the use of country envelopes; we must aim for total transparency and accountability.
In developing the upcoming UNAIDS Strategy, I echo the Cosponsors on the importance of not leaving anyone behind. Key Populations have felt the full force of the epidemics and we must do right and better. Shocking news of a huge increase in teenage pregnancies in my country begs the question of the new infections that could accompany them, which makes a bad situation way worse. People keeping away from health facilities is another added salt to the injury as testing will not happen. We will have to address the root causes and not just keep putting balm to a recurring wound.
Let us all buckle up as the situation will only get worse before it gets better. A strong UNAIDS will require all of us to work together, keep to our commitments and shield fiercely all the gains made in HIV work, development, and gender equality.
Tags: 46th PCB Meeting