Partnership with faith organizations vital for effective response to HIV

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Partnership with faith organizations vital for effective response to HIV

30 March 2010

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(L to r): Mr Ahmed Abbadi Secretary General of Rabita Mohammadia des Ouléma from Morocco, Father Hady Aya, an Antonin Maronite priest, and founder of the Organization for Justice and Mercy and UNAIDS Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Mrs Meskerem Grunitzky-Bekele. 29 March 2010, Casablanca, Morocco

Religious leaders and UNAIDS renewed their commitment to collaborate closely in order to prioritize and strengthen the response to HIV. The reassurance of their commitment came during the launch of the French language version of the UNAIDS strategic framework for partnership with Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs) in its response to HIV, that took place at the 5th Francophone conference on HIV/AIDS taking place in Casablanca from 28 to 31 March 2010.

The framework will serve as a guidance for UNAIDS staff to establish and strengthen the collaboration with the religious leaders.

Meskerem Grunitzky-Bekele, UNAIDS Regional Director for West and Central Africa

The framework, launched in English in December 2009, is designed to encourage global and national religious leaders to take supportive public action in the AIDS response and create strong partnerships between UNAIDS and established FBOs working on HIV.

“The framework will serve as a guidance for UNAIDS staff to establish and strengthen the collaboration with the religious leaders,” said UNAIDS Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Mrs Meskerem Grunitzky-Bekele, in Casablanca.

The document details how FBOs can work towards ending stigma and discrimination and help in the inclusion of people living with HIV in the programme design and implementation, as well as research, monitoring and evaluation of programmes and in decision-making processes.

Our presence in the church stresses on our main vocation to defend human dignity and be witnesses for the mercy of God.

Father Hady Aya, Antonin Maronite priest

The religious leaders present at the launch stressed the need to meaningfully engage the people living with HIV and that the faith leaders need to act decisively to protect human rights within their communities.

“Our presence in the church stresses on our main vocation to defend human dignity and be witnesses for the mercy of God,” said Father Hady Aya, an Antonin Maronite priest, and founder of the Organization for Justice and Mercy which works on HIV issues in prison settings in Lebanon.

Muslim leader Mr Ahmed Abbadi Secretary General of Rabita Mohammadia des Ouléma from Morocco welcomed the document. "I am in full support of this framework that provides us with tools for a more professional approach in our work among communities of people vulnerable to HIV".

I am in full support of this framework that provides us with tools for a more professional approach in our work among communities of people vulnerable to HIV.

Mr Ahmed Abbadi, Secretary General of Rabita Mohammadia des Ouléma, Morocco

The launch of the French version of the document was officiated by Father Hady Aya and Mr Ahmed Abbadi. Both religious leaders are active members of CHAHAMA, the First Regional Network of Arab Religious Leaders Responding to AIDS in the Middle East and North Africa region. Mrs Meskerem Grunitzky-Bekele, UNAIDS Regional Director for West and Central Africa represented UNAIDS at the event.

The Framework promotes strengthened links, including coordination and oversight, between UNAIDS and FBOs at the country level to ensure that there is an appropriate interface as part of a comprehensive national AIDS response. UNAIDS will continue to advocate for FBOs and other organizations to be appropriately funded so that they can play a role commensurate with their capacities in supporting the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of national AIDS plans.