The whole world celebrated this December 1st the international day of the fight against AIDS. Jesuit Father Ismael Matambura, director of AJAN, spoke to us about the commitment to the fight against this pandemic.
Stanislas Kambashi, SJ (with Ismaël Matambura) – Vatican City
AJAN (in English African Jesuits Aids Network – in French African Jesuits against AIDS Network), is a network which brings together all the centers, projects and initiatives of the Jesuits who work for health in general and in particular the fight against HIV / AIDS; and who are engaged in the supervision and integral development of young people. It is based in Nairobi, Kenya, home of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar. It is a work of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM) which deals with the health, well-being and development of young people.
Its vision is to have individuals, families and community well equipped and to commit to forming a society free from HIV and having a fulfilling and abundant life (Jn 10:10). Its mission is to support Jesuits and collaborators to respond effectively to HIV and reduce if not eliminate its impact on society and individuals.
A structure that works for great efficiency
Its particular tasks are to encourage research in the field of HIV / AIDS to provide a scientific basis for actions on the ground for more efficiency, to advocate to influence decision-makers to take more fair, global and globalizing measures. on certain questions raised by pandemics, Covid19, HIV and other chronic and fatal diseases in Africa such as malaria, TB. Lepres, to mobilize funds for field work and to the network, to develop programs for education and prevention of among young people and other beneficiaries of the network on the ground.
AJAN’s activities with people living with HIV / AIDS
At the level of its centers located in different countries, the members of the network work in the care and support of HIV-positive people and other vulnerable people and in psycho-social and spiritual support. They also administer basic care for sick people and distribute ARVs (Anti Retro Virals) and other additional drugs. Other activities are: prevention among young people, key populations and the general population, prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission, schooling for orphans and other vulnerable children, empowerment activities for beneficiaries to make them financially self-defending. and thus strengthen their dignity, the fight against stigmatization and discrimination,
December 1st, day of the fight against AIDS
December 1st, as every year, is celebrated the international day against AIDS. This celebration, says Father Matambura, begins in 1988 and aims to draw more attention to the world on this pandemic which continues to traumatize humanity, continues to kill, to make orphans, to accentuate the suffering in the world especially in Africa. sub-Saharan region which contains more than 70% of people living with HIV (PLHIV) as well as more than 2/3 of new global infections.
Two levels of celebration
This year AJAN celebrated the International AIDS Day on two levels. First of all, at the level of the field centers, each center is organized according to its context. In some countries, the Centers or projects have joined forces with the respective national programs that manage issues of HIV and other pandemics to celebrate, in collaboration with other partners in the health sector. Other centers have organized activities with beneficiaries and others to raise awareness in communities about the existence and the ravages or impact of the pandemic on individuals, families and society in general.
At the secretariat level, in Nairobi, a meeting of AJAN staff was organized, which focused on the state of HIV today in the world and in Africa and on the message of the President of JCAM. Then followed a time of prayer for people who died this year from HIV and Covid19, as well as for those affected.
Evolution in the fight against HIV / AIDS?
For Father Matambura, the HIV / AIDS pandemic still requires a lot of effort and the spread of Covid further complicates the situation. In 2020, statistics revealed that more than 37 million people are living with the virus, and new infections continue to be recorded. However, we can say that there is an evolution in the fight against HIV / AIDS, since today we have fewer deaths, people infected and on treatment live longer and can reach an undetectable viral load. whether treatment adherence is good. However, it should be noted that in some African countries progress towards 0 new infections, the UNAIDS 2030 target, is slow. The budget allocated to health remains very insignificant and even discourages initiatives.
But he pleads for a greater awareness of the victims of this pandemic, because there is still a lot of stigma and discrimination. For the future, AJAN wants to get more involved in its fight against HIV / AIDS. In particular, it aims to: Strengthen or extend the field of action of its centers and projects in the field; bring services closer to beneficiaries through mobile clinics, reach as many young people as possible with our comprehensive youth development program, strengthen support for young adolescents in prison, invest more in young graduates to make them creators and not job seekers, further develop the peer education approach in the youth community in order to train young influencers who will be used for responsible sexuality education, and help the centers to take greater ownership of the universal apostolic preferences of the company of Jesus. (Showing the way to God: walking with the excluded; walking with the young to build a future filled with Hope; work for the care and protection of the planet).
Father Matambura also draws attention to other forms of “more serious pandemics”: “Alongside the HIV and Coronavirus pandemics there are other more serious pandemics which are pulling the continent (l human being) down. They are often forgotten and everyone at their own level will have to fight them: it is injustice in all its forms, poverty, gender-based violence, child abuse, corruption, human trafficking. humans, etc. “.