New York - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Fund signed a US$30 million grant to reduce new HIV infections in Angola, while also increasing antiretroviral therapy coverage and ensuring better adherence to treatment. The grant was signed in the presence of the Angolan Minister of Health, Dr. Luís Gomes Sambo and other key representatives.
Even though the prevalence of HIV among adults aged 15 to 49 years in Angola has remained low at under 2.5% of the population, significant challenges remain around the elimination of mother-to-child transmission, adherence to antiretroviral treatment, prevention for young people and the inclusion of key populations in the National Strategy on HIV and AIDS.
"UNDP together with the Global Fund, UN agencies and supporting NGOs, is happy to support the government of Angola in an issue as important as HIV/AIDS. We will work side by side to increase the efficiency of HIV service delivery, drawing on the assistance and strength of all involved partners," said Dr. Pier Paolo Balladelli, UN Resident Coordinator/ UNDP Resident Representative in Angola.
The Global Fund grant runs from July 2016 through June 2018 and will be implemented by UNDP, in partnership with the National Institute to fight HIV/AIDS in Angola (INLS) together with the national non-governmental organizations and UN agencies. It will strengthen HIV prevention efforts by increasing coverage of testing and counseling and by educating out-of-school adolescents and youth, particularly girls, on sexual and reproductive health and rights including HIV. Prevention services for sex- workers, and for men who have sex with men will also be strengthened.
"We appreciate the partnership with UNDP to make the most out of INLS expertise on the ground and to pair this with UNDP´s international experience and strong organizational capacities. Our aim is the inclusion of key populations, robust quality of services and the increase of epidemiological surveillance on the entire national territory," said Dr Maria Lucia Mendes Furtado, Director of INLS.
One important pillar of the grant is strengthening a human rights approach to HIV service provision, through the development of the first national strategic plan on key populations, including sex workers and men who have sex with men. Funds for a legal environment assessment (LEA) have also been included in the grant. An LEA proposes steps for strengthening the human rights, legal and policy environment needed for effective HIV responses. Training for health workers, prison workers and police to reduce stigma and discrimination is also an important part of the programme.
Building upon previous achievements in increasing antiretroviral therapy coverage for people living with HIV, funds from the grant will also be used to procure antiretroviral medicines and related supplies, with a specific focus on increasing the number of HIV-positive pregnant women on antiretroviral therapy. UNDP will also support INLS to strengthen the national supply chain for medicines.
The grant will be key to addressing the drivers of the HIV epidemic in Angola and will contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 3 on ensuring health and well-being for all.