While there are many organizations in Africa trying to contain the AIDS epidemic, these mainstream organizations aren't focused or are woefully equipped to reach people with disabilities
Greenville, SC (PRWEB) September 10, 2009
CBM-US (http://www.cbmus.org) (formerly known as Christian Blind Mission International) has received a $3.3 million federal grant for HIV/AIDS prevention and care efforts in the sub-Sahara region of Africa.
The grant is the single largest monetary grant CBM-US has ever received; over three years it will fund HIV/AIDS education, care, counseling and other assistance for people with disabilities living in the region. Grant funding was awarded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) which is part of a broader effort within PEPFAR (the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief).
"While there are many organizations in Africa trying to contain the AIDS epidemic, these mainstream organizations aren't focused or are woefully equipped to reach people with disabilities," said Ron Nabors, CEO of CBM-US.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about 10 percent of the population in a developing country has a disability. CBM will focus on the country of Tanzania; considering its population of 34.5 million, there are 3.3 million people living with some type of impairment.
A 2009 study by the Tanzanian Commission for Aids concluded that people with disabilities are engaging in high-risk sexual activities yet are less educated about HIV than their peers and more likely to be excluded from critical HIV services.
For this initiative, CBM is working with one of its existing partners in Tanzania which already provides medical treatment, rehabilitation and educational/vocational training for thousands of people each year affected by disabilities.
Grant objectives include:
- Improve access to HIV/AIDS services for people with disabilities by developing and distributing training materials and information
- Strengthen the network of healthcare facilities and build capacity for health providers; train staff on addressing needs of people with disabilities
- Improve access to reproductive health education for youth with disabilities
- Work with the government of Tanzania and other appropriate agencies to impact policy change
- Document and share the knowledge gained with other agencies to broaden the impact of these programs
Program development has begun; the project will continue for three years.
"This project allows us to impact lasting change with policy while we are implementing practical, hands-on application," said Karen Heinicke-Motsch, CBM-US Director of International Programs. "Our goal is that people with disabilities are included in the HIV/AIDS awareness and care. Unfortunately, in many cases, that's just not happening right now.
"I met a woman with a disability in Zimbabwe who told me that when the HIV/AIDS workers visit her village, they pass by her door. She described this lack of access to HIV/AIDS awareness information as a result of the common misconception that women with disabilities are not sexually active and therefore do not need education or treatment against the disease," said Heinicke-Motsch.
In fact, women with disabilities are extremely vulnerable to exploitation. According to DFID, women with a disability are twice as likely to experience abuse, including rape, as women without a disability.
"The stark reality is that the people who have the greatest need for protection against HIV/AIDS education and relief don't have access," said Nabors. "We are hopeful that this grant from PEPFAR will allow us to pilot a program that can be used as a model for other regions.
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