John Coventry is blogging from Mozambique
This morning we meet with Shilpa, one of the co-ordinators of Monasu, the main Mozambican coalition campaigning for treatment for people with HIV.
She explains how they work at community, regional and national level to raise this issue up the agenda – by lobbying politicians and working with the media. It’s remarkably close to how the campaigning in the UK and Europe works, except that Monaso also do a lot of frontline work too – organising home visits and making sure people can get to hospital appointments.
It sounds like a pretty sophisticated operation and it’s interesting to talk about our experiences back home and how these are similar to Monaso’s.
Shilpa explains that they do have a good relationship with the government – which has a fairly new Ministry for HIV, but progress can be slow and while treatment rates are generally rising, so is the number of infections. She says they’re trying to start a national monitoring scheme – to ensure the government’s figures are accurate.
"But we should give them credit, they are getting better and the government is our partner, not our enemy"
This afternoon is devoted to writing up the hours and hours of interviews we’ve collected since we’ve been here, while Nick, ActionAid’s HIV policy boffin, goes to meetings with DfID (the UK government’s international development team) and UNAIDS.
Some of the interviews are remarkable. And not, I hasten to add, because of the standard of the interviewing. These people have really opened up, and shared some deeply personal stories about life under the shadow of a disease that has ripped through Africa.
I said before that there’s a lot of hope here – some might call it blind optimism. But there’s a theme of community and neighbourliness that could warm the heart of even the biggest cynic. The idea that together people are stronger than they are as individuals is central to fighting not just the physical symptoms of the disease but the stigma and the desperation that remain hallmarks of HIV & AIDS.