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National HIV/AIDS Monitoring Important in MENA Region, UNAIDS Report Says

February 6, 2009

National HIV/AIDS monitoring should be stressed in the Middle East and North Africa region, according to a report recently released by UNAIDS, RTT News reports. The assessment -- which examined the 35,000 new HIV cases and 25,000 AIDS-related deaths in the region in 2007 -- also looked at the National AIDS Coordinating Authorities in 16 MENA countries.

Renu Chahil-Graf, director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for MENA, said that national monitoring gives countries the opportunity to improve coordination by providing information on the strength of their national responses. The assessment examined governance, relationships between coordinating bodies, institutional structures, strengthening capacity, harmonization, operational challenges and alignment, according to RTT News. Chahil-Graf said that the information in the assessment gives countries the capability to make decisions about universal access to HIV/AIDS services such as treatment, prevention, care and support.

According to RTT News, the assessment was the focus of last month's regional meeting on national HIV/AIDS coordination in Muscat, Oman. Officials from Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen attended the three-day meeting. Representatives from the World Health Organization, the United Nations Development Program, the U.N. Population Fund, the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the World Bank also attended. RTT News reports that HIV/AIDS program officials and ministers of health, youth, sports and social services participated in the meeting and encouraged cross-sectoral approaches to responding to the disease. According to UNAIDS, MENA countries received about $431 million from the Global Fund over the past four years (RTT News, 2/5).

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