GHARP has led to consistent improvement in HIV programmes – RamsammyMonday, January 19, 2009 – 8:35 am
Source: Stabroek News
In the four years that GHARP has supported Guyana’s national HIV programmes there have been consistent improvements in various areas, and NGOs across the country have managed to carve out niches.
Health Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy recently underscored the key role the Guyana HIV/AIDS Reduction and Prevention Project (GHARP) has played in its four-year collaboration with government, as part of the United States government effort to assist Guyana in broadening the country’s response to the HIV epidemic.
GHARP’s future now hangs in the balance as the US administration, which supported the project leaves office. There is some hope that the Barack Obama-led administration will continue funding, possibly under new terms.
A final project report from GHARP is expected in another few months, and last week a quarterly report was presented when GHARP held its last board meeting.
Ramsammy used the opportunity to say how useful GHARP’s work in the area of HIV has been over the years. He noted that in the four years GHARP has assisted several NGOs, which has allowed them to grow and strengthen in specific areas. He praised GHARP for its efforts, adding that the project has solidified its place in the national fight.
GHARP reported last week that its work has been well supported by the NGOs and government. It listed several services which have expanded over the years and are now reaching thousands of Guyanese.
The Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV/AIDS (PMTCT) and the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) programmes were among the programmes that have had many successes, GHARP said, noting how much coverage has expanded within the past years in both areas and the number of skilled health workers have increased.
Other services GHARP partnered on include Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT); Home Based/Palliative Care (HB/PC); Condom Sales and Distribution; Advertising and Marketing; Private Sector Partnerships; Workplace Clinical Care and Community Mobilization; Multi-sectoral Coordination; Drug Procurement (Anti-retroviral (ARV); Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI); Opportunistic Infections (OI) and Monitoring and Evaluation.
GHARP spoke of its work in the interior with loggers and how it managed to increase condom distribution by utilizing business and casual hangout zones in the interior locations. It was observed that a few private sector collaborations in this area managed to impact positively on distribution.
A key element of the GHARP exit strategy, it was disclosed, is the development of a Core Group of Leadership Development (LDP) facilitators drawn from programme graduates.
This LDP Core Group will mentor and support those who have already been trained in the LDP and expand the understanding and application of key leadership and management practices and principles within their geographic region.
As part of the 2008 work programme, GHARP spoke of the documentary it produced, which is a private sector video that includes highlights of GHARP private sector programme from beginning to the launch of the Guyana Business Coalition on HIV/ AIDS. It noted that the DVD highlights the critical support and significant role of US Ambassadors to Guyana; USAID; The Ministry of Health; the ILO; the UN Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS to the Caribbean; the Global Business Coalition; the Pan Caribbean Business Coalition and the Public/Private sector partners that make up the Guyana Coalition.
The documentary, which has been aired on national television and has received positive feedback, is to be distributed to member companies and used by the coalition in the future to highlight member benefits as well as a tool to help brief potential partners/donors on the coalition and its mission.
In addition there was mention of the work GHARP has done with Commercial Sex Workers (CSW). Efforts were made to interact with CSWs and to share vital information with them, GHARP said, but noted that there was some difficulty with the scheduling of hours.
Further, they encountered some difficulty in getting owners of brothels to respond positively to the project.
But as GHARP was presenting its report UNAIDS Country Coordinator for Guyana and Suriname Dr Ruben del Prado pointed out the need for the challenges the project faced to be also highlighted, in which case they can strengthen those areas. This was acknowledged by GHARP.
Del Prado also stated that some focus must be placed on the critical area of Men who have Sex with Men (MSM). He said the global efforts to highlight the importance of this particular group have intensified, and that it is necessary for local efforts to pick up.
The GHARP Management team is made up of Family Health International, Cicatelli Associates Incorporated, Howard Delafield International and Management Sciences for Health. The Caribbean Conference of Churches advises the management.