Health Minister Jean-Paul Adam’s message for World Aids Day commemorated on December 1 |30 November 2019
‘Reinforce an inclusive community-based approach to tackle the further spread of HIV/Aids’
“This year’s World Aids Day theme ‘Communities make the difference’ highlights the importance of community responses to the success and sustainability of the national response to HIV/Aids.
“This theme reminds us of the essential roles communities have played and continue to play in where we come from, where we are at and where we want to be in the global response to HIV/Aids.
“It is worth noting that communities were the first responders to HIV some decades ago, and to date, they remain essential in advocating for a robust response to the epidemic. They play key role in ensuring that services reach everyone in need and tackling HIV-related stigma and discrimination. The Ministry of Health applauds the contribution of the community and their commitment to the national response and the promise to ensure that no one is left behind.
“The recent statistics show a total of 99 new HIV cases by November 26, 2019. This includes 8 HIV and hepatitis C infections which were reported in the Seychelles by the end of September 2019. A total of 11 Aids deaths were also reported in that same period.
“We are pleased to note dramatic reductions in hepatitis C infections, from 186 in 2017 to 86 in 2018, while 46 cases have been recorded in 2019 up to September. We also note that harm reduction strategies have helped to dramatically reduce infection among intravenous drug users, meaning that the main mode of transmission is now through heterosexual sex. We are also pleased to note improvements in the number of patients undergoing anti-retroviral treatment from 62% in 2017 to 84% in 2019. Viral suppression among these patients is also 91%.
“To further consolidate the improvements in key populations, we must reinforce an inclusive community-based approach to tackle the further spread of HIV/Aids. We must all be concerned also by the continued progression of HIV/Aids in our main population and we must also empower our communities to fully implement our HIV/Aids Strategic Plan.
“The Ministry of Health has been working closely with the private sector, non-health governmental agencies, civil society, faith-based and community-based organisations to develop and implement effective prevention strategies, to ensure that the needs of all populations are addressed, and keeping in mind the specific needs of vulnerable populations. These include decentralisation of preventive treatment that is essential to controlling and eliminating HIV and providing specific indicators that can be used to measure progress towards reaching national and global targets.
“Communities are considered as ‘critical enablers’ by the many ways in which they are advancing the response to HIV/Aids. Through their strong voice and presence, their contribution to broadening the reach of services. From supporting prevention and retention in care, promoting testing, distribution of condoms and lubricants, increasing demand for
PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis – a treatment to be taken by vulnerable persons at high risk to reduce risk of HIV infection), monitoring quality, to advancing human rights and combatting stigma and discrimination – communities are making a difference.
“In Seychelles recently, we have seen the creation of community led networks and associations that have been echoing their concerns and advocating for communities who are most at risk of contracting HIV/Aids. Their leadership and strong will to keep people at the centre of the response have been remarkable. The Ministry of Health has been working closely with community-led organisations to ensure that their needs are integrated in prevention strategies. Recently the Aids Control Programme created and set up the HIV/Aids Prevention Task Force (HAPTF). To date such investment has been positive as it has strengthened the synergy and working collaborations of both the ministry and the communities themselves.
“World Aids Day is the day where we need to make deep and thorough reflections on the epidemic and ask ourselves what we can do more so that the continuous investments made by the government and the strong community engagement to ensure that the epidemic is controlled and the country is on track.
“The Ministry of Health is committed to increasing efforts to work closer with the community to improve collaboration across health programmes for more harmonised and integrated policies and service delivery. This is to ensure that even the most marginalised are reached with health services. After all, engagement of community partners is critical to helping governments transform HIV commitments to real action on the ground.
“Engagement with communities is also critical to remove stigma and discrimination. We must recognise and call out discrimination in all its forms. We are committed to address barriers and discrimination faced by the LGBTI community.
“Unless we work together to pick up the pace we will not meet our common targets. In the end, we must remember that the war against HIV will not be won at the Ministry of Health but in communities by the community and organisations at the frontlines. As governmental agents, our role is to facilitate conversations between community and service providers to focus on the needs of people living with and most at risk of HIV.
“Our role is also for providing sufficient resources that they need to implement actions that will identify, refer and link affected communities to health services.
“We stand with our communities to tackle HIV/Aids. We empower our communities in this fight. We commit ourselves to building inclusive communities that remove barriers and discrimination. We reinforce the rights of all citizens to receive appropriate information and treatment on HIV/Aids and to take informed decisions about their health.
“We believe in the power of our communities to make a difference.
“Our health is our responsibility.”
Communiqué from the Ministry of Health