July 21, 2010
In the build up towards universal access, the recognition of home-based care and support to care providers must be increased. This was the one of the key points to emerge from the session "From Universal Access to the MDGs: Why Home-Based Care Matters" on 19 July at the XVIII International AIDS Conference.
Organized by the Caregivers Action Network, a global network coordinated and founded by Cordaid, HelpAge International, Huairou Commission and VSO International, the session brought together a panel of advocates who work to ensure that caregivers -- and the work they do -- is properly supported and recognized.
UNAIDS' Director of Partnerships, Ms. Hedia Belhadj, chaired the session, which saw panelists share the challenges of providing home-based care in their respective countries. Speakers included: Kufekisa Laugery, primary carer and board member of Senior Citizens Association of Zambia, Emily Tjale, secondary carer from South Africa, Matilda Mkunthi Maluza, National Health Secretary in Malawi, Kathleen Foley of the Open Society Institute, Bongai Mundeta, Director of VSO-RAISA, Zimbabwe, and Agnes Atim, Executive Director of NACWOLA from Uganda.
The panel explored the many dimensions of care work as "work" through the presentation of evidence and a review of policies across 12 African countries. This analysis revealed the magnitude of care work and demonstrated that it is largely invisible in the policy and funding arena, despite it being a key pillar of universal access.
In her remarks, Ms. Atim called for care work to be defined as an issue that intersects human and gender rights, and she challenged the international community to give a voice to the voiceless, adding that "care work has been deliberately forgotten."
Ms. Belhadj stated that the "recognition of care and support is long overdue and has not been given adequate recognition or resources." She said UNAIDS will contribute to efforts by integrating this area in its result's framework.