KUALA LUMPUR, 22 MARCH 2012 – Penang based non-governmental organisation, the Penang Family Health Development Association (FHDA), was today announced as the winner of the prestigious Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Award 2012. Presented by the Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF) to recognise excellence in the HIV/AIDS response in Malaysia, the Award was presented to the winner at the glitzy Sapura & Kencana Petroleum Red Ribbon GP Ball 2012 held at the Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur by MAF Patron, Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah Mansor.
Established in 1962 (then Penang Family Planning Association), FHDA is the leader in the field of sexual and reproductive health for healthy family development in the state of Penang. Its activities are guided by the motto, Healthy Families, Happy Families that underpins the health of the family, and to a larger extent, community units, as the foundation of a happy society. While the association started out primarily as a provider of family planning and clinic services, it has, through the years, broadened its scope of work to address the growing HIV epidemic and expanded its services to include people living with HIV and other key populations affected by HIV/AIDS such as sex workers, transgender people, and drug users.
Cognizant of the multifaceted nature of the epidemic, FHDA consciously adopts a holistic approach to addressing HIV issues in all its programmes. The MAY (Me & You) Support Group, for instance, provides emotional and moral support to people living with HIV and their families. The corresponding MAYCARE Centre, which is a drop-in centre and a halfway home for hospital visits, serves as a safe space for the community to interact, communicate freely about their concerns and share experiences with one another without fear of stigma. With the community at the heart of its strategies, FHDA was also successful in its efforts to create equal opportunities for and build the capacity of the marginalised communities it serves. We Have a Dream, the groundbreaking national colloquium on transgender health held at the end of 2011, gathered medical practitioners, researchers, social activists and religious leaders to engage in meaningful evidence-informed discourses.
While its fifty-year journey is illustriously marked with the aforementioned recent achievements, the volatile and fluctuant donor environment of late nearly jeopardised the operations of some of its key activities. “However, with the constant belief that the glass is always half full, we saw this as an opportunity to seek more creative avenues to sustain our programmes,” said Yeap Meng Chee, Chairman of FHDA. In 2010, Say AAH!!! – A Charity Musical Evening with Doctors raised more than RM 400,000 in aid of FHDA’s various HIV/AIDS programmes. “We are also blessed with the support of highly committed doctors, nurses, and volunteer staffers who voluntarily dedicate their time, energy and expertise to our cause which has been keeping the machinery going over the years. To you, we are eternally indebted,” attributed Yeap of FHDA’s successes.
The Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Award was given in conjunction with the Red Ribbon GP Ball 2012 charity fundraiser in aid of MAF and Global Poverty Project. FHDA beat twelve other nominees made up of both individuals and organisations from very diverse backgrounds in the field of HIV/AIDS work, to take home the exclusively designed and crafted trophy by Richard Mille, cash prize worth RM 10,000 and a certificate of excellence.
MAF places great importance in recognising outstanding contribution made by extraordinary individuals and organisations in advancing the HIV/AIDS cause in the country. “While we initially set out to inspire people to do their bit for society, we were ultimately the ones inspired by the resilience and ingenuity of the nominees. It is indeed reassuring to learn that our civil society partners such as FHDA are leading the march to a generation of Zero New HIV Infections, Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS Related Deaths,” reflected Prof Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman, Chairman of MAF, on the Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Award 2012 experience.