- The first-ever HIV surveillance programme in the self-declared republic of Somaliland has been launched. The surveillance is set to explore key findings of the earlier research, with a focus on most-at-risk populations.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the UN's World Health Organisation (WHO) have announced their launch of the first community-based HIV surveillance programme in Somaliland. Building upon its groundbreaking Somali HIV hot-spot mapping research, IOM says it has started a "bio-behavioural HIV surveillance survey" in the breakaway republic, in collaboration with WHO.
Focus on the earlier study was on so-called "most-at-risk populations". The HIV hot-spot mapping was the first Somali research study to identify and engage transactional sex workers and their clients, including truck drivers, uniformed services, seafarers and militia. "Key findings indicated poor knowledge of how HIV is transmitted and prevented, low condom use and multiple, concurrent sexual partners," according to IOM.
HIV surveillance is widely regarded as the cornerstone of an evidence-informed AIDS response. The "bio" component establishes who is HIV-infected, which is then linked to "behavioural" indicators of risk practices, according to IOM Hargeisa Head of Office Adrienne Testa.
The findings is set to guide the Somalilander government's HIV response to develop and inform programmes for risk populations, including sex workers, truck drivers, uniformed services and other vulnerable groups. Baseline prevalence of risk behaviours and HIV infection are also expected to be established.
The community-based surveillance among most-at-risk populations is also to complement WHO's HIV surveillance among Somaliland antenatal clinic attendees, says Ms Testa.
Data collection is to start August 2008, according to IOM, "to establish HIV and STI prevalence, as well as HIV and STI risk perceptions, condom usage patterns, barriers to condom usage, gender-based violence and integrated health service needs," she notes. Local partner organisations included the Somaliland National AIDS Commission (SOLNAC).
The project, which is funded by UNICEF, the Global Fund and UNAIDS, will initially be conducted only in peaceful Somaliland. But IOM says it hopes to be able to replicate it also in troubled Somalia, starting in the relative peaceful semi-autonomous north-eastern region of Puntland and moving down to South Central. This was however "subject to additional funding," IOM said.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.