Last August we reported on the progress of the 2008 White Tie & Tiara Ball pledge to help prevent HIV-positive women in Cambodia passing the virus to their children during pregnancy. This is a critical issue in Cambodia as 79% of new HIV infections are amongst women of child bearing age, but less than one in ten women had access to PMTCT.
EJAF’s funding was thanks to the generosity of guests at the White Tie & Tiara Ball 2008, who heard from Bill Clinton about the need for an effective PMTCT programme in Cambodia, and from Many Dy, a Cambodian lady who, having been diagnosed with HIV, was told she would never be able to have children and would probably die. Many eventually adopted the baby twins of a friend who had died of AIDS, but she passionately wanted Cambodian women to be able to save their babies with the right medication.
With the generous pledges from the Ball, the Foundation supported a new service that linked antenatal care with HIV care, known as the ‘Linked Response’ programme, and run by President Clinton's Health Access Initiative [CHAI]. The new programme was trialled in the Cambodian province of Prey Veng in 2008/9.
Last year, we reported here that the Linked Response programme has been so successful (it had tripled the number of women accessing PMTCT) that it has now been adopted as the national protocol by the Cambodian Ministry of Health. This summer, the Ministry secured $50 million from the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria to roll-out the Linked Response programme in every province of Cambodia.
Now the Linked Response programme has helped secure an Award for Excellence at the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) summit in New York. As world leaders came together to review goals for global health, education and prosperity that were set in 2000, the 'Linked Response' programme was hailed as a uniquely successful strategy in the fight against AIDS (MDG number 6) and in reaching the development goals by 2015. The World Health Organisation has also singled out Linked Response as one of the best approaches globally to creating an AIDS-free generation.
We are proud of our partnership with CHAI and the Cambodian Ministry of Health in this work. More than anything, we are deeply grateful for the pledges made at the Ball, which helped start a tide that is changing the landscape for HIV-positive women and their babies.