A Cathedral where people can come to be voluntarily tested for HIV, hospitals offering antiretroviral therapy, home-based care to help with adherence to medication regimes, youth groups offering support and prevention education, palliative care and practical help to those living with HIV. These are all part of the Anglican response to HIV & AIDS which is described in a new report.
The study (Working Together!? - The Anglican Response to HIV & AIDS in Africa) has been carried out at the invitation of the World Health Organisation and UNAIDS, and with their support, and the project has been led by the Anglican UN Office Geneva working in partnership with the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) HIV&AIDS/TB/Malaria Programme. The report is intended to give a flavour of the global Anglican response by means of a close focus on three countries in Africa - Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia - and so highlight lessons which can help build the Anglican response as a whole.
The work is a response to the affirmation by the Archbishop of Canterbury (The Most Revd Rowan Williams) on World AIDS Day last year, committing the Anglican Church to extending itself to meet the challenge of AIDS and to building its capacity.
The pattern that comes through is of work inspired by grassroots energy and ownership, and also - not surprisingly - showing considerable diversity.
Revd Michael French (Anglican UN Office Geneva):
"Some of the case studies help to challenge stereotypes: there are examples of work done on an interfaith basis, dioceses which have programmes to distribute condoms, courses on sexuality, HIV and condoms for Bishops and their wives, and so on. Challenging stigma and adopting a pragmatic approach are important themes, along with the many examples of delivery of health services, both professional and at a community level
The title Working Together!? is both an affirmation of the remarkable and diverse work being done, and also a question, because it goes on to ask how Anglicans can work in an increasingly coherent way - structurally and institutionally - to help big global institutions to get to grips with the Anglican Communion as a whole and therefore work with it in partnership.
Revd Michael French:
"Now is a significant moment to be asking this question. Increasingly, faith-based organizations (FBOs) are recognized as important partners in health service delivery. As we talk to the international institutions it becomes clear that, in a busy world, it is those faith communities which structure and present themselves with clarity at the global level which will benefit from these partnership and funding opportunities."
Emmanuel Olatunji (CAPA HIV&AIDS/TB/Malaria Programme Coordinator):
"This is another significant milestone in the Anglican Communion AIDS response, especially in the African Provinces (Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia) where the pilot study was conducted. The contributions of the Provinces both at national and community level in combating HIV through their health and other socio-spiritual structures are enormous, especially at the community level
We therefore invite a wider network and effective partnership between international, regional and national agencies, with the Anglican Communion AIDS and health ministry in all parts of the world, in ensuring universal access to HIV prevention, care and treatment."
"Faith-based organizations are a vital part of civil society", said Dr Kevin De Cock, Director, Department of HIV/AIDS, WHO "Since they provide a substantial proportion of care in developing countries, often reaching vulnerable populations living under adverse conditions. This report will add a great deal to the body of knowledge. FBOs must be seen as essential contributors towards universal access efforts."
"The Anglican report again demonstrates that we continue to explore and expand the field of knowledge about faith based organizations and their contribution to the welfare of the world. It is evident that this report only scratches the surface of what is happening and has made clear that there is so much more to learn," said Ted Karpf, Partnerships Officer in WHO's Department of HIV/AIDS. "Donors and health-care funders need to take the role of Anglican health systems into account. Without the FBOs the hope of universal access to prevention, treatment and care is lost."
Sally Smith, Partnerships Adviser at UNAIDS, commented:
"We recognize the extent and commitment of the Anglican work on AIDS and are pleased to see that this report contains many examples of the spirit of partnership and dialogue. Anglicans are working in collaboration with many partners from other faiths, governments, UNAIDS and other institutions. This report tells the Anglican story and shares some of the important lessons they have learnt in AIDS work."
CAPA's commitment to carrying forward this agenda is reflected in this statement issued by its newly-elected chair, the Most Revd Ian Ernest (Bishop of Mauritius, Archbishop and Primate of the Province of the Indian Ocean and Chairman of CAPA):
"Greetings in the Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, At our last Council Meeting we were greatly encouraged by the report from CAPA about the progress that has been made about its educational and pastoral concerns in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
We do, however, remain concerned about what seems to be the unabated spread of the pandemic, and the effect that it has on family life.
As we approach World Aids Day 2007 with its theme: Keep the Promise - Take the Lead, we would like to encourage all governments, donors, and those responsible for the implementation of policy, to ensure that resources be channelled to areas where it is so sorely needed, and be used in the most effective ways.
As Faith communities, together with other partners, we should continue to speak out against any form of discrimination and stigmatization, and improve ways of addressing issues around behavioural change and morality. We can never educate enough on this issue, and should continue to ensure that the correct factual information be assimilated to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS."
The study was welcomed by the Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon (Secretary General, Anglican Communion Office):
"Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia, in their programmes featured in this report, convey the essence of what being in Communion can mean when addressing HIV&AIDS and the growing desire for a global Anglican response on health care matters. I am grateful to CAPA, the Anglican UN Office, Geneva, and all who are working together as we attempt to come to terms with the needs set before us by this important report."
The Anglican UN Office serves the Communion under the auspices of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC). The Chair of the ACC, the Rt Revd John Paterson (Bishop of Auckland (Aotearoa, New Zealand, Polynesia)) said:
"The Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) has consistently urged our member churches to work closely together on ways to respond to those affected by HIV&AIDS, malaria and other health issues. This report is a welcomed step toward a global Anglican response to a reality that we must give our utmost attention, support and prayerful concern."
The full text of the report is available at:
Revd Michael French, Anglican UN Office Geneva, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel +41-22-779 0465 (home office), +41-79 668 7592 (mob) (NB travelling in S Sudan 24/11-01/12/2007)
Mr Emmanuel Olatunji, HIV&AIDS/TB/Malaria Programme Coordinator, Council of African Provinces of Africa, email@example.com, +254-20-387 3700
Anglican UN Office Geneva:...has emerged in recent years as an interface between the Anglican Communion and Geneva-based institutions related to the UN. AUNO Geneva supports the work of the Anglican UN Observer based in New York.
CAPA (Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa):...is an Anglican regional organization that was established in 1979. Its goal is to coordinate and articulate issues affecting the Church and communities across the continent. CAPA's HIV&AIDS work is carried out through the CAPA HIV&AIDS/TB/Malaria Programme, reflecting the need for a broad-based approach to these inter-related issues.
As the directing and coordinating authority on international health work, WHO takes a lead within the UN system in the global health sector's response to HIV/AIDS. WHO provides technical, evidence-based support to Member States to help strengthen health systems to provide a comprehensive and sustainable response to HIV/AIDS including treatment, care, support and prevention services through the health sector.
UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, brings together the efforts and resources of ten UN system organizations to the global AIDS response. Co-sponsors include UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank. Based in Geneva, the UNAIDS secretariat works on the ground in more than 75 countries world wide.