Mohd Asyraf Rusmizam
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) Ensures That Nobody Is Left Behind
During This Movement Control Order (MCO)
KUALA LUMPUR, 29 April 2020 – The Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) would like to inform that the commodity supplies and programmatic actions are being implemented continuously according to the rules and regulations by the Government during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period through the Government’s clinic and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO)’s referral.
While it is true that the MCO is affecting a large number of people in the country, however the Key Populations such as Transgender, MSM, People Who Inject Drugs, Sex Workers and PLHIV are not forgotten. “MAC is inclusive in its programmatic actions. Based on the principle ‘Nobody is Left Behind’, MAC reaches out to Key Populations affected by HIV & AIDS through its HIV Comprehensive Package & DHSKP during the MCO period” says Bakhtiar Talhah, President of MAC. These are difficult times for all of us. MAC is urging people to act with kindness, not stigma and discrimination—people affected by COVID-19 are parts of the solution and must be supported.
These efforts include the distribution of HIV Prevention Kits, referral to Methadone Maintenance Therapy (MMT) and HIV/STI testing at clinics with pre and post counselling provided, as well as online interventions. During the MCO, the efforts are intensified that include providing extra HIV prevention kit and clients who requested for the commodities can get it through posting or liaise through nearest NGOs.
As recommended by UNAIDS, HIV services must continue to be made available for people living with and at risk of HIV. This includes ensuring the availability of condoms, opioid substitution therapy, sterile needles and syringes, harm reduction, pre-exposure prophylaxis and HIV testing.
Virtual support group sessions are being conducted where key populations are invited to join the sharing session despite where they are. On a one to one basis, our outreach workers contacted clients through social applications such as Whatsapp. We also highlight on social distancing, practising good hygiene and stay at home in line with the Government’s effort of battling COVID-19.
MAC’s digital team is using social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to actively posting and sharing lots of information which also involve celebrities to advise clients to adhere to treatment, staying safe at home etc.MAC has also provided to all project implementers Personal Protection Equipment such as face mask, hand sanitizer and glove during the 1st phase.
MAC is extremely concern over reported cases of clients having difficulties to get medications. The outreach workers and case workers are constantly being updated through MAC’s focal point officers via phone calls and media social regarding the situation in the hospitals and clinics so that the project implementers will be able to advise their clients accordingly.
MAC is also conducting online communications with the case workers in clinics. This is to ensure that the Differentiated HIV Services for Key Populations (DHSKP) are being implemented fully during the MCO as well as to ensure the medications supply for the clients are being taken care of. MAC urges the clients and the clinics to cooperate in preparing the medications for PLHIV without any shortage due to the MCO.
During this MCO, MAC team held weekly virtual meeting through Zoom and Skype to stay updated on any issues regarding the HIV and AIDS response in Malaysia. Issues happening in the implementing sites are highlighted regularly to mitigate risk behaviour and respond to the needs of the Key Populations. Rest assured, MAC will always stay ready and willing to go the extra mile to help any client in need.
There are several new initiatives such as the Public Service Announcements (PSAs) by MAC’s Digital Team and sharing the messages related to COVID-19 and HIV response from the Red Ribbon Celebrity Supporters of the Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF) as a collaborative effort with the Malaysian Red Crescent (MRC) on our social media platforms. It is understandable that the face to face intervention is out of discussion at the moment due to the MCO, therefore we are utilising the online platforms to the fullest.
Online sites and social media platforms are the popular means of communication between MAC with the community and rest assured, MAC’s social media are updated on a daily basis to ensure the informative delivery being done to the public.
Once the outbreak of COVID-19 is being lifted, MAC will continue its service in setting up a programmatic initiative to perform a risk assessment activity. This is to ensure the sustainability of the service delivery to the community in any situation. We learn so much from the MCO and there are rooms for improvements, so that we will be more well-prepared in the coming days, should there be any other sort of emergency.
Apart from that, MAC would like to congratulate MOH and all the front-liners for their great help in reducing the number of cases of COVID-19 in Malaysia to becoming only two digits to date.
On that note, MAC would like to extend the gratitude to MOH for their never-ending support and help in avoiding any lacking in our service delivery to the community. MAC will continue to strive in fighting the stigma and discrimination faced by the Key Populations and will continue its best to serve the community.
About Malaysian AIDS Council
Malaysian AIDS Council (Malay: Majlis AIDS Malaysia, abbrev: MAC) was established in 1992 under the Ministry of Health (MOH) with a mission to represent, mobilise and strengthen nongovernmental organisations and communities who were working with HIV/AIDS issues. MAC works with its partner organisations in a diverse range of activities from advocating and policy reforms; developing awareness and communication materials; creating public awareness campaigns; conducting and organising workshops and seminars; rolling out prevention and education programmes; providing care and support services and psychological counselling.