January 29, 2011
Burkina Faso: Women help stop the spread of HIV and AIDS
Burkina Faso – 27-year old Assiétou was pregnant with her third child when she discovered that she was HIV positive.
“I thought it was the end of the world,” she recalls. “I immediately thought about my husband and I was very worried about his reaction. In the end, I summoned up all my courage and went to talk to him.”
Assiétou’s husband, Laouali, immediately agreed to go to a voluntary screening centre, where he found out that he is also HIV positive.
Today, they both receive free treatment from the UNDP Support Programme for Associations and NGOs (Programme d’appui au monde associatif et communautaire) otherwise known as PAMAC.
The broad-based programme was set up by UNDP in 2003 on request from the National AIDS Council. It is made up of 142 civil society organizations and six national networks working to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS in the country. This nationwide mobilisation has helped reduce the HIV and AIDS prevalence rate from 7 percent in the 1990s, to 2 percent in 2007.
Assiétou was tested thanks to a group of women volunteers who are part of the PAMAC network, and who conduct informal discussions with people living in different villages about the risks of HIV.
They also organise plays and film screenings followed by debates, raising issues such as the importance of wearing a condom, HIV testing and preventative action. Assiétou and Laouali are among tens of thousands of Burkinabé who have benefited from PAMAC’s nationwide work to raise public awareness on HIV and AIDS.
Since January 2009, 175 women’s groups have been involved in 1,345 educational sessions, reaching some 150,680 people, more than half of whom are women. 1,560 people have received HIV screening tests, and 30 individuals who tested positive are currently receiving treatment in the areas covered by the women.
More broadly, in addition to these advocacy efforts, during 2010, the PAMAC network provided increased access to information, counseling and testing services, and home-based care to more than 74,000 HIV patients – almost half of whom are orphans and disadvantaged children.
“Innovative South-South Partnerships to achieve Results in the HIV Response: Empowering Civil Society Organisations in West Africa”
Christine Kafando Programme d’Appui au Monde Associatif Communautaire de Lutte Contre le VIH/SIDA (PAMAC)
As the first HIV positive woman to speak out openly in Burkina Faso, Christine Kafando is a significant figure in the response to HIV in the country. The 8th born of a family of 23 children, her early education was abruptly interrupted by a forced marriage. With the help of her siblings, she managed to flee and take refuge with a maternal aunt who lived miles away from her parents. There, she was trained as a preschool teacher and, in 1989, was employed as a preschool teacher in a kindergarten room.
In 1994, she joined Dispensaire Trottoir, an association dealing with street children and children of poor families, in which she worked as the officer in charge of the nursery section. While she was engaged in thisnew job, in 1997 her life changed again – she tested positive for HIV, beginning her fight against the disease, her fight against stigma, rejection and discrimination, and her struggle for life.
In 1997, she founded the Association for REVS (Responsibility, Hope, Life and Solidarity) to help restore hope to people living with HIV in the city of Bobo-Dioulasso. Within this structure, she served successively as Deputy Secretary and Assistant Treasurer. In 1998 she worked as a psychosocial advisor for people living with HIV in the department of internal medicine, where she organised self-help groups and home visits for those in need.
Ms. Kafando then created an association to deal specifically with children living with HIV. The first of its kind in Burkina Faso, the association of which she is President quickly became a reference structure in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission and the support of children infected and affected and their families.
In September 2006, Ms. Kafando was invited by President Jacques Chirac of the French Republic to attend the official launch of the UNITAID programme in New York. Ms. Kafando’s current positions include: President of the Association Espoir pour Demain (AED); Chairman of the Management Committee of the Maison des Associations (MAS); Representative of people living with HIV at the Permanent Secretariat of the National Council for the Fight Against AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections; Second Vice President of CCM / Global Fund; Chairman of the Board of REGIPIV (Network for a Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV); Member of project selection Sidaction (France); Member of the Scientific Sector 6 of the ANRS (National Agency for AIDS Research), France; and Member of the Technical Advisory STF (The Future Secure / Secure the Future) Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Started in 2003 as a special programme for strengthening the capacity of civil society organisations (CSOs), PAMAC has achieved measurable success in Burkina Faso, including:
•uniting CSOs from a variety of diverse groups (groups of People Living with HIV, women from rural areas, youth, sex workers, and so on) into one unified network of organisations
•ongoing skills-building for CSOs around organisational, technical, managerial, and financial topics, and
•empowerment of civil society, not just as advocates, but as those delivering results.
Under PAMAC’s leadership, 182 civil service organisations now deliver the following critical services, adapted to the local context: