Papua New Guinea: the centrality of a multisectoral approach to the AIDS response
Papua New Guinea has the highest prevalence of HIV in Oceania (0.5% in 2012) and is experiencing an epidemic concentrated in key population groups and in certain geographical locations. During an official visit to the country, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Jan Beagle met with a variety of stakeholders—including representatives of the government, parliamentarians, development partners, civil society, the private sector and faith-based organizations—which were opportunities to highlight that one of the strengths of the AIDS movement globally has been its ability to build coalitions of stakeholders across disciplines and sectors. “AIDS is much more than a health issue, it is a development, human rights and gender issue. To get to zero in Papua New Guinea we need the power of a coalition of all sectors to ensure that no one is left behind,” said Ms Beagle during a meeting with members of the parliamentary working groups on HIV and population and sustainable development.
In Hela Province, Ms Beagle saw first hand the work of the Oil Search Health Foundation. The Foundation, in partnership with the government, civil society and communities, is providing HIV-related services and using HIV as an entry point for broader health and development outcomes—an example of a public–private partnership delivering quality services in a cost-effective way in a challenging environment.
Women are vastly underrepresented at all levels of the government (only three women sit in the national parliament), which limits their power to influence public policy at all levels. Violence against women is extremely high, and is experienced by an estimated two thirds of women. UN Women, as part of its Safe Cities Global Initiative, is promoting a safer working environment for women in two pilot marketplaces in the National Capital District of Papua New Guinea—where 80% of market vendors are women—enabling women to keep their earnings safe and to be safer physically. In the markets, infrastructure is being upgraded, market stalls renovated and potable running water made available. New innovative cashless methods for the collection of fees are being implemented to prevent extortion and theft, market vendor associations established and a referral system for survivors of family and sexual violence in the markets piloted. With support from UNAIDS, health mobile clinics will be established in these pilot markets to provide basic health services, including HIV-related services.