Since the emergency of AIDS some decades ago, health systems across the world have been stretched in terms of resources including financial, material and manpower for responding to the disease.
These challenges necessitated the development of measures to combat the spread of the disease, introduction of new combinations of medications, prevention strategies and increased community awareness and involvement.
Key to all these is the mobilisation of communities, who after recognizing their vulnerability, have taken collective action to curb the spread of the HIV virus.
On the occasion to mark the World AIDS Day for 2019, T-MARC Tanzania Managing Director, Tumaini Kimasa, issued a press statement to the media to remind the public about the risk AIDS poses and the need for joint efforts in fighting against it.
“The theme ‘Communities Make the Difference’ is so timely as it is the time that we need to reflect and celebrate the achievements recorded in the fight against AIDS through effective community involvement,” he said and added: “It is an opportunity to recognize the essential role that communities have played and continue to play in the AIDS response at all levels.”
According to him, communities across the globe contribute to the AIDS response in many different ways and that their leadership and advocacy ensures that the response remains relevant and grounded, keeping people at the centre leaving no one behind.
“Peer educators, networks of people living with or affected by AIDS, vulnerable groups including drug abusers, sex workers, women and young people, counsellors, community health workers, door-to-door service providers, civil society organisations, grass-roots activists, among many others are so key in the fight against AIDS,” he explained.
Likewise, added, here in Tanzania community involvement has been critical to AIDS response across the country and communities are an important pillar in T-MARC Tanzania’s work.
“Our mission is to contribute to the well-being of Tanzanians by and engaging in effective charitable activities and diverse partnerships among multiple players in providing education and public health support, whereby everyone has access to affordable, quality products and services and the information needed to live a better life,” said.
T-MARC Tanzania is carrying out various initiatives to promote positive health practices for HIV prevention, treatment and care for communities in Tanzania. Currently is working with a consortium of partners including the Government of Tanzania and FHI 360 to promote HIV testing services and early initiation of Anti-retroviral Therapy (ART) through the national HIV test and treat Campaign ‘Furaha Yangu’ in various communities particularly those with high HIV burden. T-MARC also socially markets condoms for HIV prevention targeting vulnerable populations including women and youth in many parts of the country.
For many years now we have been working hand in hand with other partners and communities in our health interventions including those responsible for AIDS response. These include central and local government authorities, local health committees, village/ward leaders, influencers, community health workers, volunteers among many others.
“At the time when resources for AIDS response are dwindling threatening the sustainability of services and advocacy efforts, greater community involvement remains the main hope for addressing the challenges that are brought by AIDS,” Mr. Kimasa concluded.