PSFI and UNAIDS launch new campaign to end AIDS in the Philippines
Quezon City, the Philippines, 22/11/2022 – UNAIDS, together with the Pilipinas Shell Foundation Inc.(PSFI), the PROTECTS Grant, the Department of Health, SPARK! Philippines, and the Local Government of Quezon City, through the efforts of Mayor Joy Belmonte, launched #UMatter, an advocacy campaign to end AIDS by 2030. The event, organized at Quezon City Hall Grounds, was attended by representatives from the national government and international organizations, members of the diplomatic corps, and advocates from civil society.
The campaign supports the Philippines commitment to the United Nations General Assembly Political Declaration on Ending AIDS by 2030, adopted in June 2021 and attended by Francisco Duque III, Secretary of the Department of Health (DOH).
“Realizing the need to strengthen HIV intervention strategies in the country, UNAIDS supports the localization of the Global AIDS Strategy and Political Declaration,” said Dr Louie Ocampo, UNAIDS Country Director. “UNAIDS recognizes the importance of strengthening the capacity of local government units and institutionalizing its partnership with development organizations to deliver effectively, needs-based, and targeted HIV programs,” he added.
The Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation’s Corporation’s (PSPC), a key partner in the campaign, reflected on civil society and the community’s role in the HIV repsonse. “Energy players can be leaders even in unconventional fields such as HIV and AIDS,” said Lorelie Quiambao-Osial, President and Chief Executive Officer. “The Shell Philippines HIV and AIDS Program aims to embody a people-first approach and a positive role in communities where we operate and in the wider society,” they shared.
The #UMatter campaign underlines the political declaration’s goal of promoting equality by working with policymakers to develop comprehensive, contextual, and client-centred HIV responses at all levels of society. The campaign aims to solidify support from national and local governments by raising awareness among elected officials and the general public about HIV related interventions, remaining gaps, and challenges, as well as collaboration between national and local government units, the private sector, civil society, and development agencies such as The Global Fund and the Australian Government.
During the event, a ceremonial turnover of HIV prevention commodities worth US$ 2.56M took place, including antiretroviral drugs, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), HIV self-testing kits, HIV 1+2 stat pack kits, HIV and syphilis testing kits, male and female condoms, and lubricants. The commodities are part of the Global Fund grant of US$22.3M for HIV for 2021 to 2023 (PROTECTS) through PSFI as its Principal Recipient.
Attendees at the ceremony also included Ms Lorelie Quiambao Osial (PROTECTS program), Country Heads of the Shell companies in the Philippines, Mr Sebastian Quiniones (PSFI’s Executive Director), Dr Loyd Brendan Norella (PROTECTS HIV Program Manager), and Dr Maria Stella Flores. Lorraine Ho from the DOH’s Disease Prevention and Control Bureau and Health Promotion Bureau Director Beverly, Dr Raffy Deray and Mr Jebsen Gamido of Positibong Marino Philippines, Inc. received the commodities on behalf of the department.
PSFI, in collaboration with DOH, will ensure that people living with HIV and key affected populations will be able to access these HIV commodities for free.
The event also served as the launch for the new funding grant from the Australian government, which focuses on strengthening the HIV response, particularly in the areas of HIV policy-making; increasing local investment and social contracting; supporting the Philippine National AIDS Council to fulfil its mandate and strengthening capacities of civil society organizations particularly on community-led service delivery and monitoring. UNAIDS Phillippines will help implement the grant in several cities, including Quezon City. His Excellency Ambassador Steven J. Robinson A.O. of the Australian Embassy assured that the Australian government’s support is expected as the pandemic has renewed “its drive to find innovative, community-focused solutions to address complex global health crises,” he expressed.
Foreign dignitaries were also given time to share some solidarity messages. “Health solutions must be accessible, acceptable and available to all,” shared Gustavo Gonzàles, United Nations Resident Coordinator for the Phillippines.
Her Excellency Saskia de Lang, Ambassadors from the Netherlands, Her Excellency Anke Reiffenstuel, Ambassador from Germany, His Excellency Alain Gaschen, Ambassador from Switzerland and Her Excellency Michèle Boccoz, Ambassador from France also delivered messages of support at the reception. Meanwhile, representatives from communities of people living with HIV, such as Action for Health Initiatives Inc. (ACHIEVE) were also invited to share solidarity messages.
“The #UMatter invites stakeholders to be part of the envisioned success story of the communities by highlighting the very essence of their representation in the policy-making and implementation processes of HIV programs. We need all sectors of society to work together to ensure that services are available and accessible without discrimination to all the people who need them,” said Mayor Belmonte of Quezon City explained.
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