Scaling up Access to HIV/Aids Services with Focus on Prevention in Rwanda SSF-HIV

The private sector role in fighting HIV and AIDS was previously in the Economic Development Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) which provides the framework for multi-sectoral action on HIV/AIDS, and each economic sector’s strategic plan includes areas of action on HIV/AIDS. The EDPRS sectors incorporate all actors, including the private sector under the leadership of the Ministry of Health.

The Private Sector Federation (PSF) as lead agency for the whole private sector to address issues of HIV at workplace programs in Rwanda, got from its strategic plan 2009-2013 tree major objectives in aligned with the HIV/NSP 2009-2012;

1. Strengthen the coordination, Advocacy, networking and capacity building for members at national and decentralized level

To coordinate, monitor and evaluate the HIV response in enterprises of the private sectors, the Private Sector Federation (PSF) has set up an HIV Unit. This unit has the mandate to support and oversee HIV committees set up in private enterprises at the district level. The Unit is assisted by zone coordinators selected within Business Development Service Coordinators (BDS) of PSF at district level. The Zone coordinators commit themselves to regular and formal communication to companies about the HIV/AIDS program and its development.

The recently developed reports “HIV assessment within private companies and the HIV standard minimum package at workplace have been disseminated to private sector companies within 16 districts by the zone coordinators. They have informed them the benefits to integrate HIV program in their daily programs because companies occupy the right angle to fight HIV by making available and accessible health products for HIV and STIs prevention.

The PSF HIV Unit is engaged in range of coordination, monitoring and evaluation activities to assess factors indicated by the “Rapid assessment report on HIV”. Those factors of HIV increase the risk of HIV/AIDS to businesses in urban and rural areas in Rwanda; the direct economic impact of HIV/AIDS on a business; the economic impact of HIV/AIDS on individuals and households and; measuring the impact of HIV/AIDS.

2. Reduce sexual transmission of HIV

The PSF HIV Strategic plan 2009-2013 outlined key strategies to achieve the prevention objectives by making products available and accessible in the favor of employees, employers and general populations. Social marketing has increased in of both male and female condoms through distribution channels to business communities targeting but not limited to the most-at-risk populations and other vulnerable groups. Initiatives for promoting of male and female condom use was been strengthen through mass mobilization, community meetings and campaigns at district level and distribution expanded in the private sector. Seventy three hotels (73) signed a commitment to avail condoms in rooms for free as they do for soap in bathrooms, 3,769 members of the community business in 18 district of operation, have accepted to sell condoms expose them as other commodities. To strengthen the umbrella of fighting against HIV, PSF is involved in “National Prevention Steering Committee” based in Rwanda Bio-Medical Centre (RBC). The PSF HIV program is always aligned to the National strategies.

3. Improve economic opportunity and social protection of people living with HIV

This objective has been set so that people infected and/or affected by HIV have the same opportunities as the general population. PSF focuses on actions to help alleviate the impact of HIV/AIDS on health, economic and social wellbeing. HIV/AIDS have negative effects, not only on the health of individuals and families, but also on their economic and social wellbeing. We also know that improvements in access to ARV are helping PLHIV to remain healthier and therefore economically active for longer so that activities such as income generation activities and capacity building/education are becoming an increasingly important part of the care and prevention package for people living with HIV and their families. In addition, the social environment of PLHIV has to be supportive, exempt of discrimination and stigmatization. And for that the legal framework must be clear regarding the rights of PLHIV.

With the support from The Global Fund, PSF has supported15 cooperatives in five sectors in Gisagara district (Mugombwa, Mukindo, Ndora, Save and the achievement is result based. They regroup themselves into cooperatives to benefit small grant to run small businesses. The total number of beneficiaries is 617.

Socially: All cooperative members have the same rights as of other members of community. Those infected and/or affected by HIV are stigma and discrimination free. The cooperative have had to be unique in forming a confederation

Economically, the living standard of members of cooperatives has increased. About 426 members got temporarily job in their own cooperatives which give them ability to pay for basic needs. Local government appreciated beneficiaries’ improvement. The cooperative members who were called vulnerable at a time have been converted in serious business people members of PSF.

Civically: Members of cooperatives contribute to the local government civic activities and share constructive ideas

Sponsor : The Global Fund through the Ministry of Health