A three- day workshop on HIV interventions in AU Peace Support Operations (PSOs) kicks off today 6th October 2015, at Desalegn Hotel, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Organized by the AU Medical Services Directorate (AUMSD) and the Peace and Security Directorate of the African Union Commission, (AUC), the workshop is aiming to get all stakeholders in a meeting to enable the AUC to finalize the draft Guideline and develop an action plan for its implementation.
In his welcoming remarks, highlighting the importance of the subject of the workshop, H.E Ambassador Smail Chergui, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security noted that the continent continues to face challenges with persistence of conflict and since it is factual that HIV pandemic is also exacerbated by conditions of instability, it is very important to equip peacekeepers to deal with these kind of challenges. “Developing the capacity for our peacekeepers is necessary for them to become advocates and actors for awareness and prevention of HIV transmission by encouraging relevant training, pre-deployment orientation, voluntary and confidential testing, treatment of personnel and exchange of best practices and countries policies. This document, Guideline on HIV Interventions In African Union Peace Support Operations, once finalized, will go a long way to strengthen our capacity in dealing with the pandemic with respect to the operationalization of African Standby Force and its Rapid Deployment Capability. . I am pleased that you are reviewing this document on the eve of AMANI II Africa Field Training Exercise, and I do hope that this aspect will be incorporated into the exercise.” He Said.
The Commissioner went on to express his confidence in the participants in the finalization of this document and urged them to build on the work already done by the Commission to enrich and Incorporate some of the plan of actions adopted by the Heads of State and Government in their efforts to fights against HIV/AIDS such as the Abuja Plan of Actions towards the elimination of HIV and AIDS, TB and Malaria in Africa.” I am convinced that the diverse set of skills and experiences represented here will result in the finalization of the guidelines with concrete recommendations for implementation and provide further inputs and impetus to the attainment of our common objective to enhance peace as well as human security in Africa “He concluded.
In the same vein, Dr. Yankuba Kassama, AU Medical Services Director, recognized the impacts of the spread of the HIV/AID. Worth noting is that the pandemic is more profound in conditions of violence and instability as is the case in conflict and post-conflict situations. He emphasized that response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic within the workplace is crucial if further progress is to be made in the fight against HIV. “Although AU Peace Support (PS) Missions are AU workplaces, there are obvious peculiarities that justify the effort put into the preparation of this guideline. The fight against HIV and AIDS has not been won. Until we achieve zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS related deaths, this fight will continue.” He underscored. The director further pointed out that the implementation plan should include key programmes and activities that will empower African Union PS personnel to protect themselves, their families and the host community within which they work, especially the most vulnerable (women and children). “
The workshop will discuss, among others, policies and practices from the Troop(TCCs) and Police contributing countries(PCCs), AMISOM, mainstreaming HIV in peace-keeping operations (the international perspectives), existing programmatic frameworks: the Health Manual for PSOs, the AU HIV/AIDS workplace policy and the Abuja Declaration.
The Workshop was attended by directors and officials of Medical Services from AU Troop and Police contributing countries, AUC, African Union Mission in Somalia(AMISOM) UN Office to AU, United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Directors of Medical Services of TCCs(Burundi, Uganda, Ethiopia Djibouti and Kenya), PCC’s(Nigeria, and Uganda) and Somalia, RECs/RMs, Attaches of the AU, TCCs and PCCs UNAIDS.
At the end of the three- day deliberations, the Workshop is expected to result in Adoption of the Finalized Draft Guideline and Draft Implementation Plan.