|Overview : |
The National AIDS Commission is the multisectoral agency mandated by Cabinet to coordinate, facilitate, and monitor the implementation of the National Strategic Plan for HIV/AIDS and TB in Belize. In 2016 Belize formulated its third HIV National Strategic Plan (NSP), which spans the period 2016-2020 and which connects the HIV response to the national response to Tuberculosis (TB). The plan aimed to be a user-friendly tool to guide the national response to HIV and TB, turning several core interventions targets, into a blueprint for action. The NSP 2016-2020 confirmed the need to narrow the intervention focus as the epidemic has evolved into one that is concentrated in the population of men who have sex with men. The NSP also reflected the conclusion that the current trend in the reduction of new HIV infections is neither sufficiently steep nor consistent to break the epidemic. It acknowledged a window of opportunity and the need to confront existing pressures and competition for financial resources. It also took the position that lack of expansion or inaction will cause the epidemic to rebound with a more devastating consequence. The NSP 2016-2020 was underpinned by a number of normative, strategic and technical guiding principles, which has enhanced the formulation of a set of goals, targets and interventions strategies that would move the country to the overall goal of breaking the HIV epidemic by 2030.
In order to reduce the new infections, expanding HIV Care and Treatment while achieving the Global Targets, including the UNAIDS 95-95-95 targets to as to end AIDS by 2030, it is critical that there be a paradigm shift in the National Response. It is essential that the HIV Response incorporate other STIs and Tuberculosis which are critical for the prevention and control of the HIV Response. It is also expected that the new NSP will integrate viral hepatitis as the inclusion and linking of hepatitis B and C are critical to the HIV/STI Response, sharing the same modes of transmission as HIV as well as the at-risk populations. The integration of STIs, viral hepatitis and tuberculosis in the new NSP will support the implementation of HIV combination prevention approach and a comprehensive and holistic approach to the prevention and control of the infections which are client centered.
Every year, Belizeans are infected with HIV, viral hepatitis, STIs, or TB and many die from their infection. Most of these infections share commonalities, modes of transmission, demographic, social and economic conditions that increase risk. The NAC CCM will lead prevention and control efforts to reduce incidence, morbidity, mortality, and health disparities due to these infections to achieve the greatest public health impact possible.
The recent analysis of the HIV and TB situation in the country provides useful insights into the progress achieved thus far based on the strategic lines of action towards achieving universal health, identifying areas of strengths and weaknesses, including opportunities and threats. The document also identifies key thematic areas for consideration in the next iteration of the NSP, which includes, inter alia, issues such as leadership and governance, integration of the continuum of people-centered services for HIV, TB, STIs, and Viral Hepatitis, strategic information, partnerships and civil society engagement and social determinants of health.
The early experiences and lessons learnt from dealing with COVID-19 pandemic will also shape the development of new strategies that will have to take into consideration the realities of implementing these integrated services as being essential to the effective and efficient organization and management of health systems, including frameworks and models of prevention, treatment and care that embody adjustments to a “new normal” within the context of the pandemic and post-pandemic scenario.
It is anticipated that the new NSP for 2021-2025 will take into consideration, assessment from NSP 2016-2020, and the newly developed situation analysis coupled with appropriate national documents such as National AIDS Spending Assessment (NASA), Transition Readiness Assessment and work plan, Local Fund Agent Spot Check on Prevention Services, Investment Case the Population Size Estimates for Men Who Have Sex With Men and Transgender Women, a new Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework, the Growth and Sustainable Development Strategy (GSDS), and the current implementation of the Global Fund Grant entitled “Building Resilience through Innovation and National Accountability”, a consultant is required to support the development of a new NSP for HIV/STI, Viral Hepatitis and Tuberculosis.