,  July 19, 2024

Enhancing Migrant Populations' Access to HIV and AIDS Services, Information and Support (EMPHASIS) is Committed to: Universal Access - Continuum of Prevention to Care                                                                                                                                         Promoting Women's Empowerment                                                                                                                                         Dignity and Safety of the Mobile Populations

'Reaching the Unreached'-Roundtable on EMPHASIS project in
CARE Bangladesh and the Daily Gramer Kagoj (local daily newspaper) jointly organized a roundtable meeting titled, “Reaching the Unreached Population through lens of HIV/AIDS, Migration and Development” on 15 February 2014 at Jessore Press Club. The round table was intended to disseminate CARE EMPHASIS project’s strategies which contributed to reducing HIV vulnerabilities among cross border mobile population. More than 40 persons representing the government and non-government health service providers, NGOs, implementing partners, PLHIV network organization, impact population and the press attended the event. The round table discussion was moderated by Mohammad Hafijul Islam, Project Manager, EMPHASIS.

In his introductory remarks Md. Abu Taher, team leader, EMPAHSIS explained the objectives of the round table and presented on overall activities, achievements, challenges and lessons learned over the past four years. In his presentation he emphasized on Vouluntary Conseling and Testing (VCT) as a key strategy of HIV prevention.

He also added that EMPHASIS Bangladesh supported the establishment of 2 VCT centers in the government health facilities, including provision of staff and training in Jessore and Satkhira districts. Previously VCT services were centralized and neither Jessore nor Satkhira had VCT facilities at government health facility. Migrant and other populations living in these two districts had limited access to VCT services. This provided an entry point for the project staff to engage in discussions with local and national authorities. The VCT findings revealed that out of the 1881 people tested between May 2012 and January 2014, 32 people (Male=9, female=19 and children=4) tested HIV-positive (all of whose families have histories of migration to India) and EMPHASIS linked them to PLHIV self-help groups for treatment, care and support services. Also the referral linkage facilitated by EMPHASIS between VCT centers, other government and non-government settings is critical to ensure sustainable service access for the key population.

Two lawmakers of the ruling Awami League and Workers party (i) Kazi Nabil Ahmed, from Jessore-3 and Advocate Mustafa Lutfullah, from Satkhira-1 were the special guest at the meeting. They stressed on increasing the prevention activities of HIV and AIDS. They also suggested to develop a specific policy recommendation so that they can raise this issue in the parliament session. They showed their interest to talk to Parliamentary Health Standing Committee on relevant issues.

Dr. Hossain Sorowar Khan, Line Director, National AIDS and STD Progrmme (NASP) said, “This is a good initiative that NGOs have created an opportunity to work with cross border mobile population and HIV+. He reflected on the limited facilities of CD4 count machine in Bangladesh. He also shared that government is planning to set up 20 VCT center at government health facility and will distribute adequate condom for Key affected population.

In a testimony, one of PLHIV patient expressed his grief, “Still people have negative attitude towards people living with HIV, which make lifes very difficult. I have a request to change negative attitude to us and to ensure our treatment, care and support facility.”

Civil Surgeon from Jessore and Satkhira, Deputy Director of Family Planning Jessore Hospital superintendent and other media personnel also took part in the round table discussion.
Thanking everyone present Mobinul Islam Mobin, Editor Gramer Kagoj concluded the event.

Media Coverage:

(1) New Age, one of the National English Daily published the news on 16 Februry'14

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