The collaboration between civil society and local authority in Cambodia, in addition to government commitment, is important in the effort to reduce HIV infection and accomplish the UN’s ‘three-zero’ strategy, a leading health advocate has said.
H.E Dr Nuth Sokhom, Chair of National AIDS Authority (NAA), made the comments in a meeting at the beginning of May in Kampong Thom’s Baray district. The meeting’s aim was to strengthen HIV and AIDS implementation at sub-national level to achieve zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths by 2020, as set out by the UN’s ‘three-zero’ principle.
Dr. Meas Chhim, Director of Baray-Santuk Operational Health District (OD), presented a report to the meeting. Results on the Baray-Santuk area’s health facilities found 16 health centers, one opportunistic infection (OI)/antiretroviral (ART) clinic, one referral hospital and four home-based care teams implementing programs within the area. There are 296 people living with HIV (PLHIV) consuming OI and ART services.
There are also 71 entertainment workers working in 14 difference places and 25 reported men who have sex with men (MSM) in the area.
HIV/AIDS Coordinating Committee (HACC), on behalf of civil society, presented issues collected from members that need to be prioritized. These include:
- Mobile and migration PLHIV do not come for service regularly. It is notice as a main cause of drug resistance.
- Civil society met difficulties in follow-up and education provision to MSM and entertainment workers (EW).
- Some MSM, EW and freelance sex workers remain hidden which is hard to offer them services.
- Funding for HIV/AIDS implementation has been reduced, which affects many patients.
- HIV/AIDS law dissemination to general population is still limited.
- Some owners of entertainment places do not allow NGOs to worked with their EWs.
- People living in poverty do not receive equity fund cards provided by local authority
- Discrimination against PLHIV from communities, families and friends still occurs and self-stigma remains.
In response to existing issues H.E. Dr Nuth Sokhom suggested HAC share all information and issues collected from its members in every NAA technical working group meetings to seek the solution. Moreover, he called for HACC to conduct forum at community level more often to take immediate action.
He also mentioned the importance and effectiveness of religion in HIV and AIDS work and appealed to the local authority to work in collaboration to seek the solution at the community level. In addition, local authority needs to support civil society organisations to hold monthly meetings in order to discuss and solve problems.
The provision of home-education to EWs is another important method in HIV infected reduction that requires the collaboration from commune chief, he added.
H.E Nuth Sokhom said in closing remarks that, alongside prevention, care and support, and impact mitigation, NGOs should focus on providing vocational trainings and micro finance programs to enable PLHIV to earn a living.