National AIDS Commission (Belize) – A vital player in COVID-19 response
Submitted by Enrique Romero, Executive Director, National AIDS Commission (NAC) – Belize and Anellie Paredes, Communications and Programs Officer, NAC – Belize
As part of its “Continuity of HIV Services during COVID-19 Action Plan”, the National AIDS Commission (NAC) – Belize conducted a Needs Assessment of People Living with HIV (PLHIV). The exercise was conducted through the various existing layers of support to PLHIV including social workers and adherence counsellors from the Ministry of Health (Belize), Peer Navigators, NAC District Committees and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).
The assessment revealed that many PLHIV are desperately in need of food items to remain adherent to their medication. The NAC provided the Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation (Belize) with a list of 100 persons to facilitate and expedite assistance to these individuals through the Government of Belize’s “Food Assistance Programme”. The NAC is currently in discussions with two private companies and other agencies to facilitate the donation of food items to PLHIV.
To further contribute to Belize’s COVID-19 response, the NAC has utilised its Facebook page to empower persons by promoting healthy lifestyles, social distancing and good hygiene. The NAC’s public education and awareness messages continue to focus on respect for Human Rights, condemnation of acts of violence and abuse against vulnerable groups, including persons from the LGBT community, women and children. The NAC also issued a call to action urging persons to refrain from cyberbullying, stigma and discrimination which have increased during COVID-19.
The NAC continues to work with its social partners and communities to provide care, treatment and support services to persons living with and affected by HIV and AIDS.