Press Release: Zero discrimination campaign launched in hospitals across Thailand
UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador and Singer Chalatit Tantiwut (Ben) supports campaign
BANGKOK, 2 March 2017— The Ministry of Public Health of Thailand, the Thai Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (TNP+) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) launched a campaign to promote Zero Discrimination in health-care settings. Popular Thai singer and UNAIDS National Goodwill Ambassador for Thailand, Chalatit Tantiwut (Ben) participated in the event, which took place at the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Disease Institute in Nonthaburi.
During the campaign around 1000 public hospitals across Thailand will show a video which portrays people living with HIV, who have overcome discrimination thanks to support from their communities. The video also features a short message from Mr Chalatit, encouraging everyone to join the Zero Discrimination movement. Hospitals will show the video in their waiting rooms for the next four weeks with the aim of raising awareness about the rights of all patients to non-discriminatory treatment.
“More than 30 years since HIV was detected in Thailand, stigma still remains a major challenge,” said Dr. Jessada Chokdamrongsuk, Director-General, Department of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health. “Thailand is committed to ensuring health-care settings are safe and supportive environments.”
This initiative is part of an on-going effort by the Ministry of Thailand to tackle stigmatizing behaviours and attitudes among staff towards people living with HIV. A survey of 1600 Thai healthcare workers showed that more than 60% of workers feared an HIV infection while performing routine tasks and 90% admitted to at least one stigmatizing attitude.
The Ministry of Public Health with support from civil society, UNAIDS and the United States Agency for International Development has developed a comprehensive stigma reduction programme, which is gradually being scaled-up to include all public hospitals.
“Discriminating against anybody for any reason is always out of bounds,” said Mr Chalatit. “Making music is what I do best and I think it’s my duty to contribute to society and make some noise about zero discrimination.”
Discrimination is a barrier to accessing health services, which is why UNAIDS dedicated this year’s Zero Discrimination Day on the 1 March to eliminating discrimination in health-care settings.
“Thailand is a path maker and is showing how to tackle HIV-related stigma and discrimination in hospitals and clinics, “said Tatiana Shoumilina, UNAIDS Country Director for Thailand. “This problem is persistent and pervasive in many parts of the world. Only by overcoming this challenge will we Fast-Track the response to HIV and end the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat.”
“Zero Discrimination Day on the 1rst of March is now a well-recognized event both in Thailand and globally,” said Apiwat Kwangkaew of TNP+. “However, I would like to urge people to practice zero discrimination every day. Fear of HIV transmission and prejudice against people living with HIV are holding back people’s access to treatment and care, employment and education.”
Self-stigma can also prevent people living with HIV from making full use of health services. The Foundation for AIDS Rights (FAR) is developing materials to help people living with HIV work through their feelings and reduce self-stigma.
“Feelings of shame, self-blame and self-judgement are an important but often ignored part of living with HIV,” said Supatra Nacapew, Director of FAR. “An effective stigma reduction programme must include not only health care providers but also their clients.”
Thailand’s HIV-related stigma reduction programme for healthcare workers is one of the world’s most ambitious initiatives and it has been such a success that it is being adapted and implemented in Lao PDR, and Viet Nam. Myanmar has also expressed interest in a similar approach.
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The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more at unaids.org and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.