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West Africa: Jesuits plan future of AIDS ministry

Fr Philippe Habada SJ

Jesuits from West Africa analysing the AIDS ministry of their province underlined capacity-building and enhancing knowledge about HIV as main elements of their future plans.

Four out of six members of the AIDS committee of the Jesuit West African Province (AOC) – Fr Bernard Hounnougbo SJ, Fr Paterne Mombe SJ, Fr Charles Agbessi SJ and Fr Philippe Habada SJ – met in late January in Cotonou, Benin, to undertake a painstaking analysis of current strategies.

Among the emerging challenges they noted were declining knowledge about HIV; the negative impact of some cultural practices; enduring structural violence, especially against women; and the influence of global propaganda promoting an egotistic sexuality that ignores basic African values.

To combat the challenges, the committee members decided to emphasise capacity-building of fellow Jesuits in the province. Concretely, as a pilot project, they hope to reinforce knowledge about HIV during regency, which is a two-year placement undertaken by Jesuits in formation.

The committee also realized the pressing need is to evaluate the dynamism of Jesuit companions and co-workers engaged in AIDS ministry in the province. So it was decided to conduct a survey whose results will help to re-adjust strategies, to make the most of the province’s potential, and of its aspirations as well as those of its partners. In the months ahead, Jesuits and co-workers engaged in AIDS ministry and in the province’s social and educational centres will be asked, through a questionnaire, to share their experiences and perspectives as well as their proposals for the future.

To plan ahead and to set its priority areas of intervention, the committee took its queue from the post-2015 development agenda set by the United Nations, in particular this resolution: “We emphasize that HIV and AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, influenza, polio and other communicable diseases remain serious global concerns, and we commit to redouble efforts to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, and to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV, as well as to renewing and strengthening the fight against malaria, tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases.” (The future we want, resolution 66/288, no.140, July 2012).

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