November 2, 2016
Anglicare PNG Inc began 16 years ago when a small group of volunteers in the Anglican Church in Port Moresby realised the need for urgent action to address a potentially catastrophic AIDS pandemic in Papua New Guinea.
Since then, Anglicare has grown into a large and world-recognised organisation which has reached tens of thousands of people with their high quality and comprehensive programs in Sexual and Reproductive health. They currently provide life-changing support for more than 1500 people living with HIV who receive anti-retroviral therapy and psychosocial support.
In September 2016 the Australian Government announced an immediate end to funding for Anglicare PNG and 16 other organisations that provide HIV services to the PNG community. PNG’s Post Courier newspaper has reported that more than 10,000 people living with HIV now face an uncertain future as Anglicare and other organisations will be forced to make massive cuts to jobs and services without any clear plan about how PNG’s already stretched public health system will take over Anglicare’s highly regarded services.
Anglicare’s Begabari Sexual Health Clinic in Port Moresby is one of the foremost referral clinics for STI’s and HIV in the Nation’s Capital and caters for transfer clients within PNG and overseas. This year it has provided services for some 2,000 ongoing clients. Begabari Clinic is where people living with HIV and AIDS go to receive anti-retroviral therapy (ART) drugs as well as reviews after one month of being on ART.
Providing anti-retroviral therapy is only part of the care given to individuals. Anglicare also has a Psychosocial Support Officer for families and support is provided by way of a Drop-in Centre, which gives a free hot meal twice a week at the Anglicare facility in North Waigani.
Anglicare PNG’s Port Moresby Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) Clinic provides services to about 300 people a month. Apart from free HIV counselling and testing, people are also referred to their STI clinics for further testing.
These services have relied upon Health and HIV Implementation Services Provider funding from the Australian Government Aid program.
According to Anglicare National Director Heni Meke (pictured above), the clinic attends to Port Moresby residents as young as 15 years old. Anglicare also provides services based in Popondetta, Lae, Mt Hagen and Wabag. Speaking from Port Moresby, Ms Meke said “we are grateful for the assistance we have received over these years which has enabled the organisation to grow, capacity building of the staff, and providing higher standards in the services we deliver which would not have been possible without the Australian Government support. The prospect that all that has been achieved will be lost for the organisation is extremely disheartening. Without this funding, services will have to be closed. There is no Plan B for what will happen to those who depend on this service”. Anglicare PNG is appealing for help and greater community awareness of their predicament in both PNG and Australia.
ABM has partnered with Anglicare PNG in addressing HIV and AIDS for over 10 years. More information about the situation can be found in this front page article from the Post Courier Newspaper http://www.pireport.org/articles/2016/10/13/australia-discontinue-hivaids-support-papua-new-guinea and this article from the Director of the Development Policy Centre at ANU http://devpolicy.org/transferring-hiv-treatment-png-government-good-idea-20161031/
17/11/16 – Anglicare PNG HIV/AIDS Funding Update
Since we first published this story, Anglicare PNG has been told that funding for their HIV programs will be extended until 30 June next year. The Australian Government has also stated that they are committed to supporting people living with HIV in Papua New Guinea and that a new funding arrangement is being arranged with the PNG Ministry of Health. No details about the new arrangements have been made available and it is unlikely that this will happen for some time. This will risk existing HIV, AIDS and TB clients having no support once Anglicare’s services end.