Regional approach key to fight HIV/AIDS in Horn of Africa, UN-backed meeting told
“Due to the high level of mobility in the Horn of Africa, important population groups consistently remain outside the reach of national efforts to address HIV/AIDS,” the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said in a press release, referring to a consensus reached by eight Horn of Africa countries and regions meeting in Somaliland.
“It is imperative that we jointly respond to HIV vulnerability among mobile populations and the host populations with whom they interact.”
The three-day meeting to discuss enhanced regional cooperation in fighting the disease began yesterday and involves officials from Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, north and south Sudan, Somaliland, Puntland and south central Somalia, as well as international partners and other officials.
The Horn of Africa faces myriad humanitarian and public health concerns and, located at the crossroads of the Middle East and Africa and with a population of around 130 million, the region is characterized by socio-political and historical links as well as mobility between countries.
“The notion of physical borders between countries in the Horn is somewhat of a misnomer given the daily unchecked movement over the porous border crossings. HIV/AIDS knows no borders,” said Leo Kenny, UNAIDS Country Coordinator for Somalia.
The meeting, which is taking place in Hargeisa, follows an initial gathering in Djibouti in July at which the AIDS Commissions and international partners agreed to form a regional partnership on HIV/AIDS.
During the current discussions, participants are expected to agree on a framework of immediate action for the most vulnerable groups, a regional coordination mechanism and a monitoring and evaluation plan, UNAIDS said.