Africa

Community mobilization and digital technologies accelerate response to HIV and COVID-19 in Gabon

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Community mobilization and digital technologies accelerate response to HIV and COVID-19 in Gabon

Partnership with African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and support through UNAIDS have given Gabonese communities a glimmer of hope

GENEVA, Switzerland, October 14, 2021 / APO Group / –

Gabon is one of the partner countries involved in the Partnerships to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT) initiative in Africa. The project, developed as part of a partnership between UNAIDS and the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, aims to foster collective action to respond to colliding HIV and COVID-19 pandemics through engagement strengthened community, including the deployment of community health workers.

The UNAIDS Country Office in Gabon, in collaboration with other stakeholders, has chosen, as a starting point, to involve community actors to support the most vulnerable populations, in particular people living with HIV and lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex (LGBTI), in the context of COVID-19.

To increase coordination, ensure successful implementation and minimize risks, all stakeholders were involved from the design phase of the project. From the government, the Ministry of Health and the national pandemic response plan steering committee were involved at the highest level and appointed representatives to monitor the development process and launch the project. In addition to a minister, representatives of specialized national programs of the Ministry of Health joined the project, as well as representatives of civil society and development partners.

The project will support the deployment of more than 70 people to accelerate the response to COVID-19 among vulnerable populations and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the response to HIV and services for other diseases, sexual and reproductive health and gender-based violence. . In particular, it will help support the continuity of services through increased community engagement. The project will cover four regions of Gabon, Libreville, Lambaréné, Port-Gentil and Franceville, which are severely affected by COVID-19 and which have the highest HIV prevalence in the country.

Before the official launch of the project, UNAIDS signed an agreement with the Gabonese Red Cross, which in turn signed agreements with selected community health workers, members of six associations and networks involved in the response to HIV and gender-based violence that works with the LGBTI community and on sexual and reproductive health.

“The partnership with the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the support of UNAIDS have given a glimmer of hope to Gabonese communities who are often on their own. He has shown that with even a little support, communities can innovate and make a difference. The involvement of communities must always be at the heart of the response to pandemics. We hope that this support can be sustained over time as the needs are still enormous, ”said UNAIDS Country Director for Gabon, Françoise Ndayishimiye.

The project also includes an innovative component in the monitoring of community actors. A mobile digital application has been developed to help community health workers with real-time data collection for monitoring and reporting their activities. The app will facilitate reporting by enabling them to provide regular weekly reports on awareness and support activities for people living with HIV and people living with tuberculosis, including on sexual and reproductive health, prevention of teenage pregnancies, HIV, gender-based violence, COVID -19 and discrimination.

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