UN Plus in Tanzania
The UN Plus is a group of personnel living with HIV in the UN system. It was established in the year 2005 with a vision of creating an enabling environment for HIV positive UN staff. UN Plus is coordinated at the global level by the UN Plus Coordinator’s Office based in Geneva, Switzerland.
The coordination process has been decentralized to reflect the establishment of country UN Plus chapters. As of current, only Kenya and Malawi have moved on to the status of being chapters with own UN Country Coordinators. The decision for a country to have a UN Plus Chapter is made by the UN Country Team. One key element, for attaining the status include having own full time Country Coordinator, and also sources of funding a chapter must be in place for smooth running of the activities. UN Tanzania is yet to formally establish a UN Plus Chapter.
However, UN Plus existence in Tanzania has been recognized and consequently acknowledged by the contribution and participation of some UN staff living with HIV in several UNLS/UN Cares HIV learning activities. As a result of this, UN Plus Tanzania came to be established in not so much a formal manner.
Although conservative estimates provide that 1.5 per cent of global UN System personnel live with HIV; it bemuses to notice that only 5 personnel in UN Tanzania are UN Plus members. Perhaps, there is still the lack of confidence on the side of the staffs living with HIV. One way UN Plus Tanzania has been educating the staff that they do not have to formally introduce themselves as living with HIV. What they can do is simply using code names instead, a facility which is available within the UN Plus both globally and Tanzania.
Reasons for such a small number; might also be due to misconception and misinformation among staff members living with HIV on probable stigma and discrimination by joining UN Plus as it is thought that there is a requirement to disclosure one’s HIV status and the fear that there might be breaches in confidentiality of the personnel who is joining UN Plus.
Currently, UN Plus Tanzania, utilizes the advantageous position of some of its members being both UNLS/UN Cares Learning Facilitators and UN Cares Team members; to ensure inclusion and implementation of UN Plus advocacy agenda in the UN Tanzania Work Place Programmes.
Tanzania UN Plus is critically engaged in activities for reduction of stigma and ensuring that members of staff and their associated family members living with or affected by HIV are afforded quality care and treatment services, as well as other related supporting services.
The UN Plus in Tanzania enjoys abundant support from UN Tanzania Staff Association, the UN Physician who is also a UN Cares member, The UNAIDS Country Coordinator, Head of Agencies and the UN Resident Coordinator.
Externally UN Plus works in Partnership with both Zanzibar Association of People Living with HIV (ZAPHA+) and the National Council of People Living with HIV (NACOPHA) together with its affiliated networks.
The group works hand in hand with UN Cares, which is the UN worldwide work place programme to ensure that the UN Cares 10 minimum standards are being implemented.
UN Plus Tanzania, has one of its members sitting in the UN Plus Advisory Group representing Eastern and Central Africa, and another member as one of the UN Plus Volunteers for Eastern Region.
UN Plus Tanzania achievements, among others, include:
•Spearheaded the launch of anti-stigma campaign dubbed “Stigma Fuels HIV” in UN Tanzania;
•Engaged in the first round of Self- Assessment on AIDS Competence across the UN agencies; and
•In collaboration with UN Cares Team in Tanzania, conducted HIV Learning Sessions across the UN agencies, and advocated for provision of quality HIV services for Personnel- including accessibility of VCT, female and male condoms.
Stigma has resulted into failure for personnel living with HIV to come out and share a great deal of knowledge, experiences and insights into the issues that are important for staff members living with HIV, and for responding effectively to the epidemic within the UN Tanzania context.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF UN PLUS TANZANIA LIKE?
As UN Plus members in Tanzania garner further support from UNCT as well as UN staff in Tanzania at large, including staff living with HIV, UN Plus Tanzania will be formally established as a country chapter. The “full-fledged” UN Plus Tanzania will not only extend its support to UN staff living with HIV in Tanzania, but also to join the regional and global network of UN Plus country chapters and Friends of UN Plus and add voices to regional and global advocacy efforts. For example, representatives of UN Plus Tanzania will be invited to speak and contribute to regional and global forums of PLHIV to address issues that are of concern to UN staff living with HIV. Also, UN Plus members in Tanzania will be requested to provide support and outreach in other countries in the region where there is no presence of UN Plus.
Ms. Rosemary Maina: UN Plus Volunteer representing Eastern Africa
Email address: email@example.com
Mr. Emmanuel Mziray: UN Plus Advisory Group member representing Eastern and Southern Africa.
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org