Friday, May 30, 2008

25th International AIDS Candlelight Memorial

May 23rd 2008 marked the 25th International AIDS Candlelight Memorial at Quirino Grandstand, Luneta Park, Manila where hundreds of people commemorate the theme, “Never Give Up, Never Forget”. It unveiled the experiences of collective efforts and reminds us that we must learn from the past and never give up as we enter a new generation with the disease.

The Candlelight Memorial began in 1983 during a time of confusion and misconception about a mysterious disease sweeping the gay population in San Francisco in the United States. Four young men named Bobbi Campbell, Bobby Reynolds, Dan Turner and Mark Feldman coordinated a small vigil and marched down the Castro District to City Hall behind a banner reading “Fighting for Our Lives.” This drew thousands, beginning a candlelight movement that would inspire other people living with HIV/AIDS in other countries to bring the disease into the light for communities and national leaders, to foster support, and move people to action. The Candlelight Memorial was managed by an organization named Mobilization against AIDS until the Council began organizing the event in 2000.*

Rich in attendance were civil society organizations, students, men in uniform, and government agencies who all showed their support to those living with HIV and AIDS as well as to remember those who have lost their lives to the disease.

Aside from singing, dancing, and testimonials from People Living with HIV (PLHIV), the evening also highlighted the unfolding of hand-made quilts led by members of Pinoy Plus Association in remembrance of those who have died from AIDS. Afterwards, representatives from different sectors lined up and took turns to light their candles. The Grandstand was filled with light of remembrance, community mobilization, and global solidarity.

* Excerpts from

State of HIV and AIDS 2008, Philippines

It was a well-attended event where representatives from government offices, United Nations and bilateral organizations, media and civil society organizations gathered to attend the “Integrated HIV Behavioral and Serologic Surveillance (IHBSS) and 2008 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) Country Progress Report National Dissemination Forum” which took place at the Pearl Manila Hotel. The Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC) and the National Epidemiology Center (NEC) of the Department of Health organized the whole day activity to share the results of the Country Report and AIDS Registry as well as gather further inputs and recommendations on the current HIV and AIDS situation.

Ms. Noemi Bayoneta-Leis from the Health Action Information Network (HAIN) and project coordinator of the 2008 UNGASS presented the process and comparison between 2005 and 2008 UNGASS indicators results. Dr. Jessie Fantone of the PNAC Secretariat cited the regional AIDS situation as well as gave recognition to the organizations who have participated in the Good Practices documentation.

Dr. Eric Tayag, Director IV of NEC reported that there are 782 Filipinos who have died of AIDS since 1984. To date, the prevalence of HIV and AIDS in the country is less than 0.01%, yet trends are suggesting that the numbers of cases are on the rise. In previous years an average of 20 cases were being reported monthly. However, in 2007 this figure increased to 29 cases per month.

Dr. Tayag was also joined by Dr. Genesis Samonte of NEC for the updates on the Philippine HIV and AIDS Registry 2007 Annual Report. Ms. Nimfa Ogena of the University of the Philippines Population Institute presented the preliminary result of a study on knowledge on HIV, condom use and risky behavior among the most at risk population (MARP).

Moreover, Health and Development Initiatives Institute Executive Director Gladys Malayang shared to the audience about a new project on information database which is designed to post updates about the HIV and AIDS activities of NGOs all over the country.

As reactors to the presentations, Undersecretary Austere Panadero of Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Dr. Gerald Belimac of National AIDS STI Prevention and Control Programme (NASPCP) and Robin Carbonel of Pinoy Plus Association reminded the audience that although the Philippines is considered “low prevalence” country, we should not become complacent but rather work together and be united as a community in supporting the ongoing efforts of prevention, treatment, and care in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

PANACeA Network Partner Visits HAIN

Representatives of Aga Khan University (AKU) in Pakistan, the over-all coordinator of the PAN Asian Collaboration for Evidence Based e-Health Adoption and Application (PANACEA) network project visited their partner organizations in the Philippines.

Dr. Hammad Durrani, Ms. Saira Nigar and Dr. Zahid Ali Fahim met project leaders to discuss their updates on activities, availability and utilization of resources. HAIN is one of the AKU partners in the Philippines for its two projects here: mainstreaming E-health among the visually challenged group and in primary health care setting.

The PANACeA is a network of researchers from Pan Asia Region (South Asia, East Asia and Southeast Asia) that undertakes researches and produces evidence-based useful applications of ICT (Information, Communication & Technology) for the improvement of health services and health status in the region.

In January 2007, Emie de Vera, HAIN Resource Center staff, participated in a workshop called “Regional eHealth Research Network Workshop” which was organized by the Angeles University Foundation (Philippines) in collaboration with AKU. The workshop aimed to provide opportunities for eHealth researchers from developing countries in Asia to collaborate in the development of a regional research network, organize ideas for conducting research, and share their experiences in eHealth.

The workshop was supported by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Participants were from different universities, research Institutions and NGOs from Indonesia, India, Philippines, Mongolia, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Thailand.

During the four-day workshop, six research proposals were developed on the topics of:
• Mainstreaming eHealth in the PHC setting
• Disability
• Disaster/Emergency Telemedicine
• eHealth promotion for Safe motherhood
• Remote Consultation to Rural Mothers

Last December, the different partner organizations met again in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for another workshop which aimed to provide opportunities for PANACeA researchers to present the progress in the needs-assessment phase and discuss the proposals.

HAIN Partners with the City Government of Antipolo

Last May 8 2008, HAIN met with Mayor Victor Sumulong of Antipolo City and members of its city council to discuss HAIN’s project proposal. HAIN expressed interest in building a partnership with Antipolo city to help strengthen their community based health program, particularly on reproductive health.

Part of the undertaking is to conduct a community needs assessment through surveys, focus-group discussions and key informant interviews among stakeholders in selected barangays of Antipolo. The project will also include capacity development of barangay health workers. HAIN also vowed to provide technical and information support to the city council as they gear for the passage of its local Reproductive Health Code.

This undertaking is part of one of HAIN’s current project entitled “Enhancing Reproductive Health Situation in the Philippines through Capacity Development and Advocacy” The project aims to help develop strong linkages with various community health networks to initiate national population and RH agenda to increase in access to Family Planning (FP) and RH services and slow down population growth. The project is supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Welcome Sandra to HAIN!

Sandra Cortina, a masteral degree candidate of Public Health concentrating in Global Health and Marginalized Populations from the Simon Fraser University, Vancouver Canada is with HAIN for three months as part of her internship program. Sandra is here to complete her course requirement to undergo a practicum in a developing country where she can apply public health concepts and gain practical experience in the field. She is involved in HAIN’s projects on reproductive health and E-health. Sandra also joins some community visit activities of the Council for Health and Development.

Sandra shares her thoughts about her Manila experience...

"My internship at HAIN (pronounced ha-een to those non-Tagalogers!) has up to now been an amazing experience and I look forward to my practicum where I will be researching reproductive health and the needs of community health workers. Although I have only been with HAIN for one month and the project that I am assigned to is soon to start, I have –to a great extent-practiced how a true international Non Governmental Organization works. Whether it’s preparing the background literature for future projects, attending national dissemination forums, participating in advocacy campaigns, or just updating the HAIN blogsite, I am taking away a lot more than I had realized. For the most part, I have come to appreciate the diversity of work that NGOs do. Although each organization is unique to their own initiatives, they must still work in a coordinated manner with other diverse groups and stakeholders to accomplish their goals. In addition to the varied work that goes into HAIN, above all I have come to realize the importance of all the work that comes out of HAIN. My office mates are all dedicated individuals who are committed to improving existing health information. By collecting and providing health data, we can not only start health initiatives, but we can also use it to empower people to act in response to their own health challenges, imperative to the developing world."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The 2nd International Conference on Reproductive Health Management in Bali, Indonesia

The 2nd International Conference on Reproductive Health Management (ICHRM) was held last May 6-8, 2008 at the Kartika Plaza Hotel, Bali, Indonesia. The conference gathered around 400 participants from government, academe, local government units, military, non-government organizations, research institutions, people’s organizations and other individuals, institutions and organizations. The participating countries came mostly from Southeast Asia, and other Asian countries while others came from as far as Sudan and Mauritius.

The 3-day conference dealt with Reproductive Health Management (RHM) as a way of maximizing the potentials of individuals, groups, and institutions working in the reproductive health sector in designing, implementing and sustaining specific initiatives aimed at addressing relevant community aspirations and needs while contributing to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The six functional areas include (1) Governance, policy, ethics and standards; (2) Organization and human resource development and management; (3) Knowledge management; (4) Service delivery and operations management; (5) Resource mobilization, partnership and alliance building; and (6) Social entrepreneurship and enterprise development, institutionalization, and sustainability. In addition, RHM includes with 10 elements of reproductive health as defined by the ICPD. The focus was on how best to manage specific reproductive health initiatives with special emphasis on family planning in the light of equally pressing concerns that affect the living conditions of people particularly in developing countries. Thus the conference adopted the theme "Convergence: working together for results and impact".

Participants shared their current expertise and experiences in managing the reproductive health program to achieve better results and impact. The conference gave special emphasis on discussing the management of family planning program and also highlighted critical issues of reproductive health programs, such as access, quality, leadership, community participation, and youth empowerment.

ICRHM provided an opportunity for participants to develop a common agenda and build a consensus on ways to best pursue it, shared learning across individuals and organizations, build skills, and renew commitments to continue their work. Moreover, ICHRM highlighted current and emergent practices in managing reproductive health in relation to other development concerns, identified gaps, gains, lessons, insights, challenges and opportunities in pursuing multiple priorities in the area of reproductive health and development; and reached a consensus on future actions to advance reproductive health management in accelerating the achievement of MDGs.

Sudan will be the next venue for the 3rd ICHRM in 2010.

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