Stigma, misinformation and denial have impeded efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic that afflicts more than 20 percent of the population in some countries in Southern Africa. With powers to oversee spending, pass laws and influence government priorities on behalf of citizens, members of parliaments are well placed to make an impact.
But a survey by NDI and the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF) found that legislators were “not taking full advantage of their constitutionally mandated powers to address the HIV/AIDS crisis.”
To address the problem, NDI has been working since 2001 on programs in Africa that focus on the important role of parliamentarians as advocates for constituents who are heavily affected by HIV and AIDS. The latest of the Institute’s efforts was a session in Lusaka, Zambia, that brought together legislators and journalists to work on improving awareness on HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support.
The impact, lessons and results of the NDI program were detailed in an article in the Times of Zambia, written by a reporter who attended the event.
The Institute is also providing other support, such as working with lawmakers in Mozambique who passed a new law to combat discrimination against people with HIV. An interview with Brionne Dawson, NDI’s resident senior program officer in South Africa, who manages the program, discusses the Institute’s work.
Pictured above: Participants review materials from NDI at an HIV/AIDS workshop.
Published on April 20, 2009