Blue Ventures’ community health programme, Safidy, marked World AIDS Day by launching an ambitious week-long awareness raising programme with health partners in Madagascar to address the growing threat of HIV to coastal communities.
Safidy works with coastal communities in Madagascar to improve their access to vital health services, so that they are in better health to fully engage in the management of their fisheries. Research has shown that fishers in poorer physical health are 43% less likely to use legal fishing methods which will negatively impact marine ecosystems.
Our holistic approach to conservation aims to empower communities to manage their natural resources and improve their health. We partner with specialist health care providers to ensure that the communities with whom we work get their basic health needs met.
Madagascar has maintained a low HIV prevalence compared to other African countries but this is changing. UNAIDs observed that HIV prevalence is increasing with a 192% increase in new infections between 2010 and 2018.
Awareness about HIV/AIDS amongst young people in Madagascar is low, with only a quarter having any knowledge of the disease. The week of coordinated activities aims to increase public knowledge of the disease and measures to prevent its spread.
In a year where the need to reduce global inequalities has been underscored by the global COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s World AIDS Day is themed ‘Global Solidarity and Shared Responsibility’.
The events have been planned and undertaken with a number of partners including Mahefa miaraka, ACCESS, Marie Stopes Madagascar, PSI Madagascar and other local organisations to create a collaborative effort to fight against the spread of AIDS.
A wide programme of events are taking place across five sites where we partner with communities. The activities aim to boost public awareness of HIV/AIDS, help reduce stigma and discrimation, and build an understanding of prevention measures. These events are also focused on strengthening the health sector response to the disease.
Over the week, local radio will broadcast public health messaging and a Tam tam, a truck with two loudspeakers attached will drive through villages, sharing live and recorded public health messages to raise publicise events where community members can access free condoms, access accurate information at community events and have the opportunity to undertake an HIV test to find out their status in confidence.
The complex and interconnected nature of the issues faced by coastal communities calls for a holistic approach to finding solutions that meet community needs and enable communities to lead their own decision making to sustain the marine environment for generations to come.