By ELIZABETH MIAE
THE new National HIV/AIDS Strategy 2011-15 (NHS) will focus more on prevention of the virus through the up scaling of testing, counselling and treatment services.
The document has been designed in a way that will involve all stakeholders partnering with the National AIDS Council Secretariat (NACS) to have their input through their programmes and activities promoting prevention of HIV.
According to NACS’s policy coordinator Joseph Sil, NACS would be the coordinator of the NHS while its stakeholders would be implementing the priority areas as set out in the plan for the next five years.
He said for too long people had been shifting the blame on NACS and the Health Department for not doing anything to curb the high HIV infection rates and that mentality must now change.
The three priority areas in the NHS are prevention, counselling, testing, treatment, care and support and systems strengthening.
The NHS is also linked to other important documents such as the government’s Vision 2050 and the HAMP (HIV/AIDS management and prevention Act).
“The NHS is founded on clear priorities. The two major priority areas are scaling up and improving the quality of firstly, prevention programmes and secondly counselling, testing, treatment, care and support services,” Sil said.
He said the successful implementation of activities in these priority areas will have the most impact on achieving the strategy’s overarching goal.
“The NHS has grouped strategic priorities relating to cross cutting areas under a third major priority area of systems strengthening.
“The strategic priorities are improve strategic information systems, strengthen the enabling environment for the national HIV response and strengthen organisational and human capacity for coordinating and implementing the NHS,” he explained.
Sil said the NHS and its implementation framework contained 105 strategic objectives and approximately 400 major activities.
He said while all of those strategic objectives and major activities were important with many being interlinked, it was essential to identify the top priority areas of work.
“They are the ‘must to do’ things that, if implemented successfully, will make a real and significant difference in combating the HIV epidemic in PNG,” he said.
Sil was speaking during a media information session on the new NHS at the NACS office last Friday to prepare for its launching on the World AIDS Day on Dec 1