14th October 2015

Mayors office becomes a partner in the fight against HIV/Aids

Eight mayors coming from countries of the Indian Ocean have adopted and signed the Paris Declaration to help bring to an end the HIV/Aids epidemic. The announcement was made at the Savoy Hotel during the 14th Indian Ocean Colloquium on HIV/Aids and Hepatitis. The signing took place in a meeting held by UNAIDS in the Seychelles.

This engagement comes right after the Mayors Conference and the Sustainable Development Goals meeting recently held for heads of states. Also it is in line with the target for 2020 which is: 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status. By 2020, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained anti-retroviral therapy. By 2020, 90% of all people receiving anti-retroviral therapy will have viral suppression whilst attaining zero discrimination.

The panel at the press conference included Professor Sheila Tlou the UNAIDS Director for Regional Support Team for Eastern and southern Africa, Dr Anne Gabriel of the Seychelles National Aids council, Mrs. Said Mdahoma – Mayor of Mitsamihouli (representing all mayors of the region), a representative from the International Organization for Migration and Mrs Rachelle Rahanttarivelo of the Mad Aids Analamanga.

Professor Tlou said that UNAIDS wants to work with cities in order to touch citizens. “The world would move faster if 90% of the population knows their status. We want 90% of patient to be on anti retro-viral treatment. It will be an inspiration for us to see leaders fighting the HIV/Aids virus.”

Professor Tlou went on to say that through government led services, it will be easier to treat HIV/Aids. Through such initiatives, it is guaranteed that services are reached and that there is a fast track of the Aids response by 2020. The aim for 2030 is to end HIV Aids as an epidemic and the programme is therefore also aiming for that.

Civil Society was also represented at the press conference by Mrs Rachelle Rahanttarivelo of Mad Aids Analamanga. During her intervention she pointed out that civil society has a key role to play in providing acces to treatment and medication especially for those people in difficulty and those who marginalized by society. Mrs Rahanttarivelo said that by building on this relationship, it is an opportunity to attend to the capacity building and really end the epidemic by 2030.

Through the link between civil society platforms and the mayors office, civil society organisations will have the opportunity to engage with mayors and be in a position to be more innovative as it will also be a chance to reinforce the community system that is already in existence in the respective countries.

It will also be an opportunity for intervention to take place where services are not available and at the same time ensure that human rights are being maintained. That the group deemed vulnerable such as sex workers, drug addicts etc, will get the necessary support. By working together, civil society and communities can better assist and support each other.

In her intervention, Dr Anne Gabriel expressed that the signing of the declaration creates a lot of opportunities for Victoria. “In Seychelles we have only one mayor and once town. Victoria is where the ports are located. The ports are a gateway for many people. Victoria is where most of the offices are based; most of the hangouts are in Victoria.”

Dr Gabriel continued by saying that, “Victoria is where young people, our work force, the elderly, the sex workers and drug users gather. We also realise that in Seychelles we also have districts. Despite not having mayors, we definitely need to bring the districts on board this project, as this a great opportunity for all stakeholders involved.”

The National Aids council is in discussion with the office of the Mayor in Victoria, therefore through this corporation, civil society will be able to add the mayor’s office as one of its partners in the fight against HIV/Aids.

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