Since a military coup in 1999, Côte d'Ivoire has experienced political unrest, straining the country's already fragile health system. Limited access to health and family planning services, weak knowledge about HIV transmission and low condom use, among other factors, have contributed to a 3.9% adult HIV prevalence, among the highest in West Africa.
In Côte d'Ivoire, women are more than twice as likely to acquire HIV as men, and girls are at highest risk for HIV infection. Decreasing the vulnerability of women and girls to HIV requires a multifaceted approach that includes health centers and communities alike, and which focuses on men as well as women.
To address these realities, the RESPOND Project at EngenderHealth focuses on male involvement in HIV prevention and preventing mother-to-child transmission. EngenderHealth has worked with RESPOND partners-the Association Ivoirienne pour le Bien-Être Familial (AIBEF), Population Services International (PSI), and the Ministère de l'Education Nationale (MEN)-to conduct Men As Partners® (MAP)-focused peer educator trainings with the general community, uniformed officers and teachers, respectively.
Further expanding on our work to engage men as partners, EngenderHealth is collaborating with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) to train health providers in Cote d'Ivoire to respond to survivors of gender-based violence (GBV). A March 2012 assessment on the readiness of health facilities in the country will guide RESPOND's activities in the country.
Also building on previous EngenderHealth activities in Côte d'Ivoire, RESPOND is also working with selected Ministry of Health facilities supported by PEPFAR partners including the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and ACONDA-VS, a local NGO, to improve the health of families by preventing HIV transmission and unplanned pregnancies. With a particular focus on integrating family planning and HIV prevention and care services, RESPOND is continuing to expand its technical support to health care professionals and community activities using the MAP® approach. Specifically, RESPOND is:
- Designing, implementing, and evaluating integrated family planning and HIV services at health facilities;
- Establishing a core team of MAP trainers for our PEPFAR partners to ensure sustainability at the national level;
- Conducting trainings on these integrated services, as well as on counseling and stigma reduction;
- Providing assistance in establishing and implementing support groups for men and women living with or affected by HIV.