Indonesia lifting anti-HIV game, says health minister | Asia Pacific

Indonesia lifting anti-HIV game, says health minister

Indonesia lifting anti-HIV game, says health minister

Updated 21 July 2014, 14:27 AEST

Indonesia's Health minister says the nation's response to HIV and AIDS is heading in the right direction.

Speaking to Asia Pacific, Nafsiah Mboi says this is being achieved through a multi-pronged approach, involving donors, the Indonesian authorities and most importantly, local communities affected by HIV.

Health minister Dr Mboi had served as secretary of Indonesia's National AIDS Commission, and is now Chair of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.

Presenter: Sen Lam

Speaker: Dr. Nafsiah Mboi, Chair of the Board of the Global Fund and Minister of Health, Indonesia

MBOI: First of all, of course, the Global Fund, it's an international financing institution to fight AIDS, TB and malaria and programs are planned and carried out with country partners, so we don't have our own "programs". So everything is being done in partnership and some of the other characteristics are transparency, accountability, constant learning and resource-based funding, working with technical partners, like WHO, Stop TB, UNAIDS etc. In total 1.25 million people are now receiving an anti-retroviral treatment in Asia and the Pacific, and of those, 850,000 are from programs supported by the Global Fund and over the next (indistinct) years, the Global Fund expects to invest 2.9 billion US dollars in our region.

LAM: And speaking as Indonesia's Health Minister, how is that Global Fund partnership benefiting your nation's response to HIV/AIDS?

MBOI: Excellent. In the beginning, when the government couldn't care less about HIV, nobody wanted to touch it with a 10 foot pole, we had to depend on our partners and Australia is among one, the United States, but Global Fund is indeed the largest funding provided for our fight against HIV and AIDS. They have good results, an increase in the number of people tested. For instance, in 2006, you only had 100 (indistinct) sites, but in 2013, we had ten times more, 1,062, only 71,000 people were tested in 2006, in 2013, one million, more than one million.

LAM: How do you think the Indonesian government managed to achieve this, particularly your Health Ministry. What are some of the factors here?

MBOI: First of all, since the beginning, we worked very closely with the key affected populations. In 2006-2007, when I became Secretary of the National AIDS Commission, the first thing we did was facilitating the formation of networks of sex workers, gay, transgenders and men who have sex with men, organisation of people who inject drugs, organisation of positive people and positive women. The second one was harm reduction. In that time in 2006, we had a very high prevalence among people who inject drugs, in some areas, it came up to 64 percent positive, so we had to fight to be able to have a harm reduction accepted.

LAM: But how do you balance that, because a major theme, of course, of AIDS 2014 is that of stigma, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. So how do you encourage drug users to come forward to be tested, when drug taking is a punishable capital offence?

MBOI: That's an excellent question. First of all, of course, it is very important to work with the people themselves, so I told that they facilitated the formation of the networks of people who inject drugs and provided funding for their organisation, from national to local government. And secondly, we had to this multi-factoral approach as the National AIDS Commission, including working with the police, the National Narcotics Squad, the law, so people who were in prison, were also tested and treated.

In the beginning, indeed, it was very difficult in 2000 and up to 2006. So I said, OK what do we want to do? We have 320,000 young people who are injecting drugs. What do we want to do? Do we want to kill them or do we want to save them?

LAM: So have you managed to get the law enforcement authorities on board, for instance, with the sex workers, are they no longer harassing them?

MBOI: Well, there are still people who are harassing people, but the policy, the national policy, they have the right to have access to harm reduction activities, to needle and syringe exchange programs, as well as the methadone and to treatment. So that's what the law says, that's what the policy is, and we keep on working with the law enforcement people to respect that.

LAM: Speaking as Indonesia's Health Minister, do you think your nation is heading in the right direction, where the HIV response is concerned?

MBOI: Yes, definitely yes. All our data shows that. We're not yet happy, because we would like to see more progress, but at the moment, and I will be sharing that in Melbourne, we see very, very good results indeed.

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