OPEC Fund helps UNHCR battle HIV/AIDS in Central Africa
UNHCR wants to say a special thanks to the OPEC Fund for International Development, which is providing a grant of US$1.5 million to co-finance a project jointly developed by the Fund and UNHCR. The initiative seeks to provide a full spectrum of HIV/AIDS protection, prevention, care and treatment services to refugees in five central African countries and prepare them for repatriation to their home countries.
As the Vienna-based OPEC Fund noted in announcing the grant, refugees represent a particularly vulnerable segment of the population, coping with poverty, food insecurity and broken families. In addition, access to basic social services is virtually non-existent. Such an unstable environment can increase the spread of disease, especially HIV/AIDS. Also at risk are the surrounding host communities, since many are marginalized and lack sufficient resources and public health interventions.
The OPEC Fund/UNHCR project will target some 670,000 people, three-quarters of them women and children, in camps in Chad, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. Activities will include intensifying HIV prevention programmes; the provision of drugs, medical supplies, educational materials and awareness campaigns; insuring that cost effective and appropriate HIV/AIDS interventions reach refugees and their neighbouring populations in an integrated manner; capacity-building and training courses on programme development for HIV/AIDS prevention/control; and establishing standardised systems for data collection and monitoring.