Members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), on Wednesday, started a two-day workshop on a rights-based response to HIV/Aids, in the Burundian capital, Bujumbura.
They are discussing the legislative organ’s contribution towards the partner states’ achievement of the Millennium Development Goals – especially goal number six that concerns that fight against HIV/Aids, Malaria and other diseases.
In particular, the MPs are scrutinizing the EAC HIV/Aids prevention and management bill.
“It needs to be underscored that parliaments and parliamentarians have a clear and important role to play in ensuring that progress is made in achieving the targets and indicators outlined in the MDGs,” said EALA Speaker Abdirahin H. Abdi.
“We all know that HIV/Aids greatly impacts on the life of people. The workshop will, therefore, show us the need for a legal framework for the region.”
Sam Wangalwa, a board member of Eastern African National Aids Service Organization (EANASO), a regional network, called on the MPs to help fight discrimination and stigmata that are associated with HIV/Aids.
Patricia Hajabakiga, a Rwandan EALA member, told The New Times: “The bill makes a difference especially in a situation where there is discrimination. For example, if someone is suspended from a job just because they are HIV positive, they can’t be protected, they can’t go to court.”
Rosemarie Munhoz, a UNAIDS official in Burundi, noted that it is critical for all the stakeholders to build a (legal) framework without stigma and discrimination.
The bill seeks to promote a rights based approach to dealing will all matters relating to AIDS; promote public awareness about the disease; as well as extend to persons living with or affected by HIV the full protection of the person’s human rights by guaranteeing the right to privacy of the individual.