National Assembly |02 December 2021
Committee on communicable diseases, HIV/Aids and SRHR commemorates World Aids Day 2021
Each year on December 1, the National Assembly of Seychelles joins the Ministry of Health, national stakeholders, regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) and international community in commemorating World Aids Day.
This is an opportunity for the institution to show support to the brothers and sisters living with HIV and remember those who have died from Aids-related illnesses.
The activities of the day kicked off with a series of events at the Assembly before the commencement of the Sitting with the distribution of the red ribbons, condoms and the lighting of candles by members, secretariat staff and officials attending the budget committee stage.
The chairperson of the Committee on Communicable Diseases, HIV/Aids and SRHR, Hon. Rosie Bistoquet, made a statement to the House to highlight the reality and impact of HIV/Aids on communities in Seychelles.
Citing statistics, Hon. Bistoquet noted that 939 Seychellois are living with the disease of whom 819 are currently on treatment.
On behalf of the Committee, Hon. Bistoquet congratulated all stakeholders and the health system for the unflinching solidarity they have demonstrated from the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic which has ensured that HIV and other health services are not disrupted due to the challenges posed by this pandemic.
The Committee also congratulated the Ministry of Health staff, doctors, nurses, line ministries, communities, private sectors and non-governmental organisations who work endlessly to ensure the clients, patients and families have access to vital services, care and support throughout the pandemic.
We cannot succeed without the political commitment of the government of Seychelles, in taking the steps to ensure the right to health care is enshrined in our national constitution.
This year is being commemorated under peculiar circumstances as humanity is faced with the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic which has devastated communities, affected economies worldwide and threatens the gains made in the fight against HIV and Aids over the past decades.
On June 14, 2021 in New York, the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Aids adopted a new, ambitious and achievable Political Declaration on HIV and Aids: under the theme: ‘Ending Inequalities and Getting on Track to End Aids by 2030’. The declaration is based on evidence, grounded in human rights and serves as an important road map to advance the global HIV response over the next nine years in order for countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
It seeks to ensure health and well-being for all, at every stage of life.
The goal addresses all major health priorities, including reproductive, maternal and child health; communicable, non-communicable and environmental diseases; universal health coverage; and access for all, to safe, effective, quality and affordable medicines and vaccines.
The United Nation Assembly urges all world leaders to work together urgently to tackle these challenges head-on. World leaders must take major steps to take a bold plan to tackle those inequalities, apply transformative measures needed to end Aids without staying trapped in the Covid-19 crisis and remain dangerously unprepared for the pandemics to come.
The Republic of Seychelles has not been spared from this epidemic of HIV/Aids. Being a small island state, the country almost achieved most of the Millennium Development Goals 2015 but lagged behind on the HIV/Aids Response indicators because of inability to strategise evidenced based specific programmes for specific vulnerable groups and key populations. Therefore for the Seychelles, it is vital to upscale investments and shifts in laws and policies to end the inequalities that drive Aids and other pandemics namely through a conducive environment.
As parliamentarians, the members of the National Assembly have a responsibility to address the needs of their constituencies, more often this means meeting the needs of people living with HIV/Aids. This not only includes advocating for and developing protective legislation, and diverting public funds to HIV/Aids campaigns, but also setting a positive example by speaking openly and honestly about the disease. Parliamentarians are leaders and role models in their constituencies by denouncing stigma and discrimination, promoting testing, prevention, and treatment, and ensuring equal opportunities for political participation among those living with, or affected by HIV/Aids.
The success of public health programmes in stopping the spread of HIV depends on our ability to engage people living with HIV and key populations most impacted by the virus and marginalized in society.
Such success is also incumbent on acting to protect and empower women, children and youth. As representatives of the people, the parliamentarians have a duty to speak out about HIV/Aids and confront the stigma and taboos in a very public manner.
The Committee takes this opportunity to remind the communities of Seychelles that the fight against HIV, which has been affecting our lives for more than 30 years, must not be overlooked. More than ever we must increase our collaborative efforts and mobilise enough resources to ensure that we sustain and consolidate the remarkable gains made in the fight against HIV and Aids in the context of Covid-19 in order to end Aids by 2030.
The accompanying photos show some highlights of the commemoration of World Aids Day at the National Assembly.
Press release from the National Assembly secretariat