By Trevor Stratton, Consultant and Coordinator of the IIWGHA
The Global Scene – What’s Next?
Profile of International Indigenous Working Group on HIV & AIDS Growing
Marama Pala, Executive Director of INA (Māori, Indigenous & South Pacific) HIV/AIDS Foundation in New Zealand was appointed to the Community Programme Committee (CPC) for the XX (20th) International AIDS Conference 2014 (AIDS 2014) to be held in Melbourne, Australia. Marama is a Māori Indigenous woman living with HIV and is the Co-Chair of the International Indigenous Working Group on HIV & AIDS (IIWGHA).
The first time Marama held this position was in preparation for AIDS 2012 held in Washington, DC. This is another great stride for IIWGHA’s goal of advocating for the involvement of Indigenous people in decision-making about HIV and AIDS.
Marama’s appointment means that recognition of Indigenous-specific HIV issues will be increased and strengthened globally once again. It is very important that IIWGHA promote Indigenous specific approaches to the social determinants of health not only at the International Indigenous Pre-conference on HIV & AIDS but also within the International AIDS Conference itself.
The United Nations
For the first time ever, IIWGHA will attend the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). The Native Youth Sexual Health Network (NYSHN) has been kind enough to partner with IIWGHA to host a side event at the UNPFII on HIV and sexual health.
IIWGHA and NYSHN hope to encourage the delegates at this important forum to address Indigenous HIV issues. Our engagement at the UNPFII will also help IIWGHA to ground this work in Indigenous knowledge, Indigenous concepts of health and Indigenous wise practices. Ken Clement from Canada, Elisa Canqui from Bolivia and Michael Costello from Australia are IIWGHA Leaders who will be working hard to raise the profile of HIV & AIDS at the UNPFII.
21st IUHPE World Conference on Health Promotion
This year from August 25 to 29, the International Union for Health Promotion and Education (IUHPE) and Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth) are hosting the 21st IUHPE World Conference on Health Promotion in Pattaya, Thailand. IIWGHA will be there.
Clive Aspin, Indigenous Research Fellow at Bullana, The Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at the University of Sydney, Australia is also a Māori Leader of IIWGHA and will be presenting at this year’s IUPHE Conference. This year an Indigenous Health Promotion Sub-Plenary and a four-day Indigenous stream “Idea Factory” workshop is in the works. The conference aims to contribute to the development of equity and social justice across the globe by offering a unique platform for dialogue on the best investments for health between participants from various sectors from all over the world.
The Indigenous Sub-plenary titled “Indigenous leadership in the development of health promotion: achieving health equity through partnerships and community engagement” will include presentations on Community-based health promotion in response to high rates of HIV among Indigenous peoples; Indigenous Health Promotion Competencies; and Community-led interventions to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and feature Indigenous speakers from Canada, host Thailand and other nations.
Building the Foundation
Meanwhile back in Canada, IIWGHA is developing a communications and social marketing strategy for the IIWGHA to raise visibility of HIV and AIDS issues among Indigenous Peoples globally. This step is another important building block as IIWGHA builds a solid foundation. This work takes all of us.
Stay tuned for more adventures of the International Indigenous Working Group on HIV & AIDS….
About the Author: Merv Thomas is the National Programs Communications Manager for the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN).