PLAN International Helps Combat AIDS in Africa
The not-for-profit organization PLAN International is working to fight HIV/AIDS in some of the most decimated countries in the world, the British Globe and Mail reports. PLAN, a "child-focused," non-affiliated international group, has made fighting AIDS one of its "highest priorities," Kim Green, PLAN AIDS program coordinator in the Washington, D.C., area, said. PLAN currently has programs in Uganda and Mali, where physicians work to raise awareness of the disease. Dr. Noah Lukoda, leader of PLAN's Uganda team, said his program includes voluntary counseling and testing, home-based care clinics, mobile clinics, orphan support, school health programs and the assembling of social mobilization groups to raise awareness. Efforts such as these have led to "significant changes" in Uganda's AIDS situation, including a "substantial decrease" in the social stigma of HIV/AIDS, Lukoda said. Dr. Ousman Haidarao, stationed in Mali, added that awareness and destigmatization will have a marked difference in a country's fight against HIV/AIDS. "What I think is really most important is that for the time being, PLAN is almost the only (global) organization doing HIV/AIDS work in Mali. We are getting messages in local theaters, on local radio and video shows; we have counseling activities," Haidarao said. PLAN implemented its Mali program in 1995, adopting a "lead role" in supporting various non-governmental organizations that provided education, health and other services in the communities. PLAN's efforts raised community capacity to deal with HIV/AIDS, as well as heightening its priority in the social sector (Globe and Mail, 12/13). PLAN is also one of six groups participating in the Hope for African Children initiative, which aims to deliver essential services and support for African children who have been orphaned "or otherwise made vulnerable" by HIV/AIDS. In October, the program received a $1 million donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.