Côte d’Ivoire has launched its Harnessing the Power of Partnerships faith-based initiative.
As one of several focus countries for an initiative of the United States President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and UNAIDS, which was launched in June 2020 to leverage global and country leadership by faith-based organizations in the HIV response, Côte d’Ivoire will work with faith-based organizations in the country to align their activities to faith action plans in support of the national HIV response. Experience shows that such an alignment results in a better coordinated and sustained participation of the faith sector in national responses to HIV.
Faith-based organizations have always played an important role in the response to HIV through their strong links with communities and their broad network of hospitals, clinics and other health facilities. However, to unleash the full potential of those organizations, there is still a need to reinforce their capacities to adopt new policies and innovations, to improve their collaboration and coordination with partners in the HIV response and to further address HIV-related stigma and discrimination within faith communities.
“This initiative will build on the global and national leadership of faith-based organizations in the response to HIV, with a particular focus on areas where faith-based organizations have a real and sustainable impact,” said Samba Mamadou, Director-General of the Côte d’Ivoire Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene.
Through the partnership, PEPFAR’s implementing partners in the country will work with faith-based organizations to develop messages of hope to reduce HIV-related stigma and discrimination and increase demand for HIV services. Key issues to be addressed will include treatment cessation through “faith healing” and the need for strengthened HIV literacy.
The next steps of the initiative include convening a meeting with all the relevant stakeholders to develop a faith action plan in support of the national HIV strategic plan for 2021–2025.
“The initiative is designed as a consortium of longstanding faith-based organizations and partners working together to build and combine their strengths, promote evidence-informed policy and practice and strengthen advocacy efforts,” said Brigitte Quenum, UNAIDS Country Director for Côte d’Ivoire.
The initiative, which is under the leadership of the Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene and the National AIDS Control Program, and is supported by UNAIDS, was launched in mid-October at an event attended by more than 50 partners that was hosted by UNAIDS and streamed online.
"The faith-baith institutions welcome this interfaith initiative to strengthen the contribution of our institutions and leaders in a more synergistic way,” said Pastor Yapi, Deputy Vice-President of the Alliance des Religieux pour la Santé Intégrale et la Promotion de la Personne Humaine.