More important than ever
While the COVID-19 pandemic remains at the centre of our attention, the fight against other infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB), has never stopped.
The World Bank expects extreme poverty to rise globally for the first time in over 20 years and many HIV and TB programmes have been affected by the consequences of COVID-19, disrupting many years of progress.
It has never been more important to join forces in the fight against HIV/AIDS and TB.
Cordaid works in partnership with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to run a nationwide programme to fight HIV and TB in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
To have an even bigger impact, Cordaid invites companies to support our work in the DRC. Your company’s contribution will enable us to develop new activities within the HIV/AIDS and TB programme that will focus on improving the health of adolescent girls and young women. Please contact Natalia Costa Tur for more information.
Investing in the health of young women
In sub-Saharan Africa, adolescent girls and young women are more than twice as likely to acquire HIV as their male peers. The root causes of their vulnerability are gender inequality, discrimination, gender-based violence, limited access to education, and lack of tailored healthcare services.
From the peak of the HIV crisis in the late 1990s and early 2000s, annual AIDS-related deaths and new infections have been cut by half. Worldwide, of the 38 million people living with HIV, 26 million were on antiretroviral therapy by June 2020. Since 2010, the number of HIV-related deaths – TB being the most common cause of death among people with AIDS – decreased by 39% (UNAIDS).
After more than 15 years of steady and remarkable progress, when most countries were about to enter a new phase in the fight against HIV, COVID-19 hit.
Impact of COVID-19
The pandemic and the impact of the measures against the spread of the coronavirus are estimated to drive 47 million girls and women into poverty by the end of 2021. This will further increase the vulnerability of young women infected with HIV, disrupt essential sexual and reproductive health services and increase domestic violence.
According to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, COVID-19 may undo more than a decade of progress in the fight against HIV. Data from 32 countries shows that HIV testing decreased 41% and TB referrals fell by 59% from April to September 2020. This means more people living with HIV and TB do not know they are infected and are not receiving the care they need.
A united and active response is more important than ever.
Hubs to support adolescent girls and young women
Cordaid works in 24 of the 26 provinces of the DRC. We are responsible for the distribution of HIV and TB medicines and community health activities, both for prevention and to facilitate treatment and follow up of patients.
Addressing the disproportionate impact of HIV by investing in the health and rights of vulnerable adolescent girls and young women helps them to become healthy and empowered.
Our approach is to develop hubs to support them. These hubs ensure maximum synergy between various activities and cover these four pillars:
Create a change of mentality and social norms around sexual health, HIV, human rights and gender-based violence in communities.
Establish youth-friendly healthcare centres where girls have easy access without stigma or discrimination.
Deliver practical rights and HIV education.
Offer legal assistance and psychosocial support to victims of gender-based violence in legal centres. The referral system will be improved.
This approach reduces gender inequality and creates a ripple effect that delivers numerous societal gains, also benefitting families and communities.
The programme will run in health zones in the most affected provinces.
Follow the pill
Watch this video: by air, road and even canoe, Cordaid is reaching tens of thousands of patients, even in the most isolated and difficult places of DR Congo, whose lives depend on antiretroviral treatment and support.
Our partners in fighting HIV and TB in the DRC
All the activities are closely coordinated with the National AIDS and Tuberculosis Programs implemented by the Ministry of Health on a national, regional, and local level.
In collaboration with 28 civil society partners, Cordaid works permanently to assure the distribution of ARV and anti-tuberculosis drugs throughout the country and supports 80% of the country’s health zones to deliver the package of HIV/AIDS and TB services.
With our partners, we work on overcoming logistical challenges due to poor road infrastructure and other difficulties. This is necessary to ensure quality treatment of HIV/AIDS and TB, make sure patients stay on treatment, and for the prevention of HIV and multidrug-resistant TB.
A selection of our results in the DRC in 2020:
- 24,793 survivors of sexual violence received medication to prevent HIV infection (PEP)
- 4,067,765 people tested for HIV
- 198,356 people living with HIV received ARV treatment
- 31% of screened TB cases referred to the health system by community workers