Thursday, November 30, 2006

Global AIDS Epidemic Continues to Grow

The global AIDS epidemic continues to grow and there is concerning evidence that some countries are seeing a resurgence in new HIV infection rates which were previously stable or declining. However, declines in infection rates are also being observed in some countries, as well as positive trends in young people's sexual behaviours.

According to the latest figures published today in the UNAIDS/WHO 2006 AIDS Epidemic Update, an estimated 39.5 million people are living with HIV. There were 4.3 million new infections in 2006 with 2.8 million (65%) of these occurring in sub-Saharan Africa and important increases in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where there are some indications that infection rates have risen by more than 50% since 2004. In 2006, 2.9 million people died of AIDS-related illnesses.

New data suggest that where HIV prevention programmes have not been sustained and/or adapted as epidemics have changed—infection rates in some countries are staying the same or going back up.

Source: UNAIDS.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Smart-Chart Approach National Plenary Held in Cebu

Part of the challenges that reproductive health advocates face is finding effective ways to provide relevant, correct and adequate information on family planning that will move people into action.

With an aim to improve the advocacy capacity of reproductive health (RH) advocates, the Health Action Information Network (HAIN) had organized this year six training-workshops using the Spitfire Strategic Smart Chart Approach.

The training-workshops were part of HAIN’s ongoing project with the David and Lucile Packard Foundation which aims to promote effective education and advocacy on population and reproductive health issues in the Philippines.

The Smart Chart Approach to Strategic Communications taught the reproductive health advocates how to:
· Plan effectively and systematically
· Understand Goals
· Know the Target Audiences
· Make Correct Decisions, and
· How to Focus on Messages that Need to be put Across

HAIN has now trained more than 120 advocates from its six funded-workshops. Other organizations have also initiated echo workshops or small group presentations in their respective offices and networks even without funding from HAIN. Some of these organizations were the Philippine NGO Council, Family Planning Organization of the Philippines, the Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development, Employers Confederation of the Philippines and the Media Advocates for Reproductive Health.

To celebrate the success of the project and evaluate its impact, 25 selected Spitfire training alumni were gathered at a national plenary held at the Crown Regency Suites in Cebu City last October 24-26.
The plenary provided a venue for the training alumni to learn from the experiences of each other, build networks and gain additional skills on strategic communications.

After hearing the reports from the plenary participants, it was proved that the Smart Chart approach provided them with stronger enthusiasm in doing their advocacy work. Most of them have applied the tool in their organizations’ on-going advocacy activities.

With skills to make the rhetoric real and relevant to target audiences, reproductive health advocates are now able to communicate family planning and other reproductive health issues with a sharper communication tool to help transform words into action.

Indeed, the Smart Chart Approach to strategic communication planning has sparked what could be a communication wildfire.

For more information about the Smart Chart approach to communication planning, please contact HAIN or visit

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