In Madagascar, a wide-ranging HIV prevention and AIDS care project, Christian action, the battle against AIDS, is run by the Jesuit Province in the rural missionary districts that it is responsible for.
The project, directed by Fr Jean-Simon Ratsimbazafy SJ, offers HIV prevention, access to testing and medical care in villages. The project base is the Pedro Arrupe Social Centre in Antananarivo, where there is a clinic for VCT and a laboratory. After five years, the pilot phase of the project drew to a close in 2010 – the year was devoted to ensuring the continuation of the project, which is now in its second phase. Fifty parishes were reached in the first project phase. Those implementing the project objectives on the ground, often in distant places hard to reach, are village animators, youth leaders, teachers and doctors; in 2009 and 2010, they received monthly visits of support and training from the coordinating team. Training included éducation à la vie et à l’amour (EVA – education for life and love), and knowledge about STDs and HIV/AIDS. Mobile VCT was carried out monthly often together with public awareness. Monthly radio broadcasts entitled Il vaut mieux prévenir que guérir (Better prevent than cure) enjoyed national coverage. Other activities included seminars, setting up anti-AIDS clubs in schools, and home visits.
A rural development component of the project, aimed at combating poverty and hunger, developed in the years under review. Groups of farmers were formed and trained in agricultural techniques to improve production; seeds and tools were distributed. The objective was that participants should have at least two meals a day. The project also educated young people to protect the fast degrading Malagasy environment, one of the causes of poverty.