The Italian Government signed on 21 February a financing agreement for €500 000 to support UNAIDS’ efforts to end the AIDS epidemic in Ethiopia. The funds will be invested in a special project to bolster UNAIDS’ work in improving community health education and capacity- and knowledge-building. The project will be implemented across 10 areas of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region of the country over a 12-month period.
The Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region, situated in south-west Ethiopia, is the third most populous region in the country, home to some 17.8 million people in 2012, including 80 different ethnic groups distinguished by different languages and cultures. Around 90% of the people in the region live in rural areas, often hard to reach with essential health services. It is estimated that 14% of all new HIV infections in the country are in this region, showing the urgent need to increase HIV prevention and support services.
The joint project will focus on preventing communicable diseases in the region, including HIV, generating demand for and increasing uptake of health services for women and young people and strengthening and building the capacity of support groups for women and young people.
Ethiopia has been particularly affected by the AIDS epidemic. At the peak, in 2005, around 82 000 people died of AIDS-related illnesses. Although much progress has been made in recent years—new HIV infections among children have declined by 87% since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths by 71%—there is still much work to do. The latest estimates show that, in 2014, around 730 000 people were living with HIV in Ethiopia—two thirds of whom were women, and only half had access to treatment.
The commitment, signed in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, is part of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation’s efforts to strengthen Italy’s engagement in the response to HIV in Ethiopia and more broadly across the African continent. UNAIDS will be working closely with the Ethiopian and Italian Governments, community partners, civil society and groups of people living with HIV to ensure that Ethiopia is firmly on the Fast-Track to ending its AIDS epidemic by 2030.
“TODAY ITALY AND UNAIDS COME UP TO A FURTHER STEP IN THEIR STRONG PARTNERSHIP AND ONGOING COLLABORATION FOR THE BENEFIT OF ETHIOPIAN POPULATION IN THE FIELD OF HEALTH. I AM MOST HONOURED TO ANNOUNCE THE LAUNCH OF THE PROJECT IN COLLABORATION WITH UNAIDS, AS IMPLEMENTING PARTNER”.
GINEVRA LETIZIA HEAD OF THE ADDIS ABABA OFFICE OF THE ITALIAN AGENCY FOR DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION
“ITALY HAS ALWAYS BEEN GREATLY COMMITTED IN SUPPORTING INITIATIVES DIRECTED TO FIGHT HIV IN ETHIOPIA AND AFRICA AND THE SIGNATURE OF THIS FINANCING AGREEMENT FURTHER STRENGTHENS ITALY’S SUPPORT AND DEDICATION FOR SUCH AN IMPORTANT CAUSE”.
GIUSEPPE MISTRETTA AMBASSADOR OF ITALY TO ETHIOPIA
“COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT IS KEY TO ADVANCING EQUITABLE HEALTH CARE TOWARDS ACHIEVING THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL 3 ON ENDING AIDS AND OTHER COMMUNICABLE AND NON-COMMUNICABLE DISEASES BY 2030. THIS PROJECT WILL ENHANCE COMMUNITY HEALTH EDUCATION FOR POSITIVE EFFECT ON SAFER SEX PRACTICES, SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND REDUCTION OF VULNERABILITIES.”
MIRIAM MALUWA COUNTRY DIRECTOR FOR UNAIDS IN ETHIOPIA