Launch of the “Minimum standards for the integration of HIV and Sexual Reproductive Health in the SADC Region”

At the 18th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) the Minimum standards for the integration of HIV and Sexual Reproductive Health in the SADC Region were launched by the Senator Sibongile Ndlela-Simelane, Honourable Minister of Health for Swaziland, and Deputy Chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Senator Sibongile Ndlela-Simelane, Minister of Health for Swaziland

Senator Sibongile Ndlela-Simelane, Minister of Health for Swaziland

Launching the Minimum Standards – developed by SADC with support from UNFPA, UNAIDS and Save the Children – the Honourable Minister of Health said “It is clear now that we need to integrate and these Minimum Standards will help us to achieve this”.

Click here to read a summary of the Minimum Standards, or the full SADC Minimum Standards

Dr Vitalis Chipfakacha, Technical Advisor for Capacity Building and Mainstreaming HIV and AIDS in SADC, introduced the Minimum Standards and said “The Southern Africa Development Community is the first region in the world to develop such a strategy.”

The Minimum Standards for the integration of HIV and Sexual Reproductive Health seek to promote and support efforts by Member States to better integrate SRH and HIV into national policies and frameworks. The Minimum Standards highlight opportunities for integration within a systems strengthening approach by outlining priority areas for action – for instance possible entry points, opportunities and overlaps – which can enable bi-directional linkages between SRH and HIV frameworks. Additionally, they are underpinned by a life cycle approach, whereby services reflect the different developmental stages of a person’s life, as well as the integration of specific issues relevant to key populations.

The Minimum Standards focus on six main areas:

  1. Policy: Reviewing or developing policies at regional and national level to create a conducive environment for integrated HIV and SRH service delivery
  2. Health delivery mechanisms: Strengthening and realigning infrastructure, human resources and processes to enable comprehensive and integrated delivery of SRH and HIV services
  3. Facilities: Identifying how various SRH and HIV service delivery points can adapt to provide more integrated and comprehensive services
  4. Community: Identifying strategies which can help create a demand for services and addressing negative cultural practices which hinder access to and utilisation of SRH and HIV services
  5. Adolescents and youth: Identifying priorities for adolescents and youth and putting strategies in place to ensure increased provision and update of services by these groups
  6. Cross-cutting standards: Issues and standards which cut across any of these categories, including key populations and gender-based violence.

Now the guidelines have been launched, they must be implemented. The Honourable Minister of Health Swaziland concluded “We do not want this document to be another one that collects dust. We expect it to be used and commit to making this happen among SADC member states.” For a copy of the SADC Minimum Standards document click here.

Dr Vitalis

Dr Vitalis Chipfakacha at ICASA 2015