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CARAM eNews - September 2007
Is ICAAP Still Relevant?
Many expressed that this time round, the 8th ICAAP fell short on many counts. Generally the presentations lacked reflection on failures and shortcomings of programmes but instead focused on painting a rosy picture of interventions on the ground. For example the issue of stigma and discrimination, which is arguably the largest barrier to scaling up HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, continues to be the missing link in evidence based intervention. Read more here
Click here for the closing community report for the 8th ICAAP.


Full House at Mandatory Testing Publication Launch
The 8th International Conference on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP) held in Colombo, Sri Lanka from 19 to 23 August, 2007 provided an ideal platform for CARAM Asia to launch its State of Health Report 2007 on Mandatory Testing.

The satellite session hosted by CARAM Asia held on Aug 21, 2007 entitled “State of the Health Report on Migrant Friendly Testing” was attended by over 90 participants including representatives of ILO, UNDP, IOM, UNFPA, USAID, Department of Labour (Sri Lanka), SAARC, CARAM partners and 30 Sri Lankan migrant representatives from MSC.

Prasada Rao, UNAIDS Regional Director (Asia Pacific) was given a copy of the SoH regional report by Jonathan Castaneda, a Filipino returnee positive who is directly involved in the State of Health research in the Philippines. Read more here.


Fit for Work?
Health and Human Rights of Migrant Workers in Asia was one of the important symposiums that focused on Migrant Workers in Asia at the International Conference on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP) 2007. On August 22, 2007, International Labor Organization (ILO), UNICEF, CARAM-Asia, Women and Media Collective came together in a panel with the objective to highlight the necessity to address the health and human rights of migrant workers and to ensure that they are treated with dignity and respect.

Brahm Press, Convenor of State of Health (SoH), CARAM Asia, shared the findings of “SoH research on Mandatory Testing” completed by CARAM Asia. The research has established that no guidelines of medical testing like pre-test and post-test counselling, informed consent, confidentiality, standardised testing procedures are followed in majority of countries. When migrant workers have no voice about taking the test or not, there is no referral system or social support for the workers in case they fail the test. CARAM Asia introduced the concept of “Migrant Friendly Testing” during the ICAAP 2007 and envisions instituting it by year 2010. Read more


NIDS: Seminar on IDP
During the last 11 years of civil war in Nepal, thousands of Nepalese fled their homes. After the peace accord, some have succeeded to return home, yet many more have not been able to return due to threat and security reasons. To address this issue, a seminar on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) was held in Kathmandu on 14 August, 2007. Nepal Institute of Development Studies (NIDS) jointly organised it with the Nepal National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

The main objective of it was to understand the seriousness of the IDPs situation that has been marginalised and to create awareness amongst people and NGOs to study and focus on these "real" issues.

During the seminar, Durga Nidhi Sharma, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction welcomed suggestions given for a new set of guidelines that would be formulated. The guideline is called “National Policy on Internally Displaced Persons". Based on these guidelines, necessary changes or policies will be made for improving the status and condition of IDPs.


ODA Under the Microscope
More than 80 participants from various Asian countries congregate at a conference on Official Development Assistance (ODA) in Asia from 25 to 27 July, 2007 held in the Philippines. CARAM Asia and a few partners participated in the event. The aim of the conference was to:

1) Exchange views on the status and impact of ODA

2) Come up with a regional policy agenda and action for advocating the increase in the quantity and quality of aid in Asia and

3) Provide a platform to critic aid policies and processes and deliberate on alternatives in Asia. 

The conference culminated in a drafting of a declaration on “Building an Asian Peoples’ Agenda on Aid” which will be adopted after participants finalised the declaration. Read more...

WHO: A Safer Future
The World Health Report 2007 - A safer future: global public health security in the 21st century marks a turning point in the history of public health, and signals what could be one of the biggest advances in health security in half a century. It shows how the world is at increasing risk of disease outbreaks, epidemics, industrial accidents, natural disasters and other health emergencies which can rapidly become threats to global public health security.
The report explains how the revised International Health Regulations (2005), which came into force this year, helps countries to work together to identify risks and act to contain and control them. The regulations are needed because no single country, regardless of capability or wealth, can protect itself from outbreaks and other hazards without the cooperation of others. The report says the prospect of a safer future is within reach - and that this is both a collective aspiration and a mutual responsibility.

Download the report here.
Reality Check: HIV & AIDS Interventions in Asia
Despite the many advances and successes achieved by some countries in reducing the rate of new HIV infections in Asia, the sincerity of the various HIV and AIDS programmes established are being questioned. These questions were put centre stage by the Asian People's Alliance for Combating HIV and AIDS (APACHA) in their latest report entitled Reality Check: HIV & AIDS Interventions in Asia released during the 8th ICAAP.

The majority contents of the report criticises policies made by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) that impede the universal access to affordable AntiretroViral (ARV) drugs worldwide.

The report delved into the role of The Global Fund claiming that it was "still struggling to ensure democratic governance of Country Coordination Mechanisms" despite it having the potential to address the issue.

Also highlighted was the civil society response to the epidemic which it claims to be weak. Initiatives have been made in terms of mobilising bodies such as parliamentarians, political parties, student unions but it is far from being a priority.Download the report here.  
Coordinating With Communities
While there is widespread acknowledgement that involving the community sector in the coordination of national AIDS responses will increase effectiveness, it often does not translate into actual meaningful involvement. Therefore a new guideline, Coordinating with Communities - Guidelines on the Involvement of the Community Sector in the Coordination of National AIDS Responses is published by the International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO), the African Council of AIDS Service Organizations (AfriCASO) and the International HIV/AIDS Alliance. It aimed to strengthen the active and meaningful involvement of the community sector in the development, implementation and monitoring of coordinated national AIDS responses.

Kieran Daly, ICASO Director for Policy and Communications said that the community sector brings to the coordinating table vital technical knowledge and experiences that can help ensure national AIDS responses meet the real needs of those most affected.

"For this to work, all stakeholders need to be open to genuine collaboration, using these guidelines to build greater understanding of how to support active and meaningful involvement of the community sector," he added.

The guideline aims to provide practical options from which communities and stakeholders can identify the actions that are most appropriate and useful to their own contexts. Read the guideline here.