The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is operational in over 180 countries of the world through its member Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies which have their structures extending down to the community level. The Federation has ample experience in working with the community for the community in addressing prevalent public health problems.
Since late 80s, the International Federation has been actively engaged in supporting governments' efforts in addressing the challenges of HIV/AIDS. It has been exerting efforts in areas of prevention, fighting stigma and discrimination, provision of safe blood for transfusion and in support and care for PLWHA and family members through training, supporting and involving community based Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers. In some regions where injecting drug use is the main mode of HIV transmission, the Federation has also initiated harm reduction programmes within the context of governments' policies.
The International Federation, in collaboration with other major international organizations has been strongly advocating for PLWHA increased access to care and antiretroviral therapy including treatment for opportunistic infections. The International Federation is very encouraged by the global momentum on the making to scale up provision of care and antiretrovirals for PLWHA in resource limited countries of the world. Equally it is encouraging to see a demonstrated commitment and leadership by some governments of developing countries for scaling up antiretroviral therapy for PLWHA.
The International Federation considers care and treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS as a humanitarian imperative and encouraged by changing global scenario, has renewed its commitment to support the global effort of scaling up the provision of care and ART for PLWHA in collaboration with committed partners, governments and PLWHA.
In line with this, in 2003 the International Federation has conducted a feasibility study in selected high burden countries and has developed a service delivery model on access to care and antiretroviral therapy for PLWHA. The model is instrumental in guiding Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies in their involvement in the provision of care and treatment based on holistic approach and in collaboration with ministries of health and other partners.
The International Federation believes that effective provision of ART requires coordinated actions at community, household and medical care levels. Such actions promote continuum of care and treatment and enhances synergy. Communities must be educated and be prepared for ART, stigma and discrimination have to be minimized, persons living with HIV/AIDS and family members must be educated on adherence to treatment, nutritional and counseling support must be strengthened.
In many high burden countries the Federation is already providing similar services through its home based care and support programmes and hence can contribute significantly in increasing the demand, in promoting adherence and uptake of antiretroviral therapy.
Moreover, in the project sites, efforts will be made to support collaborating medical institutions through provision of ARVs, drugs for opportunistic infections and diagnostic reagents. In collaboration with Ministry of Health and other partners, programmes for a 5 years time frame are being elaborated in a number of high burden countries based on holistic intervention to be implemented with the active involvement of the community and PLWHA.
The International Federation thinks that the public health approach designed by WHO including the programme components are instrumental for a systematic roll-out of ART in resource-limited countries.
The International Federation strongly supports and commends the bold move by World Health Organization for providing 3 million people living with HIV/AIDS care and antiretroviral therapy by 2005. Such move can contribute to the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals; hence Federation reiterates its commitment to strengthening its collaboration in all areas possible.