Partnership with JAKIM
Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) took the pragmatic approach of building strategic partnerships with national and state level religious departments, recognising the low level of engagement of Islamic religious authorities in the community-based responses to HIV and AIDS. n out of this initiative was the HIV & Islam programme in 2009 was born through this initiative, which broke new grounds in amplifying the visibility of Islamic authorities leading the efforts to address the needs of Muslim PLHIV and other MARPs.
Partnership with principal collaborator, the religious policy-making Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM) in particular has successfully opened doors of opportunities for, inter alia, more meaningful engagement with religious leaders and other key players in open intellectual discourses to advocate for evidence-informed public health approaches to effectively respond to the HIV and AIDS epidemic. As a result, principles previously founded on staunch conservatism have now been replaced with pragmatism.
HIV & ISLAM MANUAL
HIV & ISLAM manual was officially launched in August 2010. JAKIM and the Ministry of Health (MOH) jointly undertook the initiative, with MAC assuming advisory role over the content of the manual. The goal of the development of the HIV & Islam manual was to institutionalise HIV and AIDS education into the formal training of new Muslim leaders. Following the launch of the manual, JAKIM has since been proactively conducting HIV & Islam education training workshops to sensitise state religious council officials and other religious and community leaders nationwide.
International AIDS Memorial Day Celebrations
Partnership with JAKIM results in the first ever event held in mosque complete with mainstream media coverage in 2009. The celebration acts as a landmark of the beginning of strategic partnerships between religious authorities and grassroots HIV movements, in particular that of JAKIM and MAC. The event, marked with mass Islamic prayers and Qur’an recitals to remember lives lost to the epidemic and a panel discussion on HIV for a popular religious television talk show (Forum Perdana), united some 1,000 guests comprising religious leaders of various faiths, key government stakeholders, health officials, families and members of the communities affected by HIV and AIDS as well as the general public.
Shelter Homes for Muslim PLHIV
The shelter care facility for Muslim PLHIV, which is already in the pipeline, will be jointly built and operated through a tripartite collaboration with MAC, JAKIM and the Federal Territory Islamic Council (MAIWP). The RM 15 million (USD 3 million) facility, is designed to be a hub where high-quality treatment options will be made available to clients. This includes nursing and palliative care, counseling, job placement, family reunification and hospital follow-up services.
Mukhayyam Programme : Employment Training Programmes for Most at-Risk Populations
In an unprecedented move to improve the livelihoods of Muslim TGs lacking social support to gain employment and to ultimately reduce the vulnerability to risks associated with HIV infection in this population, Dagang Halal and GiatMara, a food products and services enterprise, through a joint collaborative effort with JAKIM and MAC just recently in March 2011 piloted an employment training programme for TGs.
The programme, which additionally purported to promote greater societal acceptance of TGs in the highly conservative Muslim community, was lauded for the adoption of the non-judgmental “embracing gender diversity with no restrictions or impositions” principle. The pilot was much appreciated by the TG participants themselves who, through this programme, received HIV and AIDS education and religious and spiritual lessons in addition to professional skills development training. At the end of the programme, participants were given the opportunity to apply for positions that suited their skills and qualifications.
Outreach to MARPS
JAKIM and other state religious councils and authorities periodically work in partnership with the various CBOs under the MAC umbrella to provide basic HIV education to MARPs such as sex workers, TGs and IDUs, and to address their spiritual needs through outreach activities.
A mosque located in one of the country’s most prominent universities in Kuala Lumpur is currently being used by a research institution as service delivery point to administer methadone to IDUs for a study on treatment of drug dependence. Based on the findings from this study, JAKIM will develop a protocol to standardise operational procedures and package of services.