The Framework for Dialogue process was initiated in Malawi in early 2012, with a first face-to-face dialogue meeting taking place in June 2012.
National Working Group
The Malawi Network of people living with HIV (MANET+), Malawi Network of Religious Leaders living with or personally affected by HIV (MANERELA+), Malawi Interfaith AIDS Association (MIAA), Norwegian Church Aid in Malawi and the UNAIDS Country Office formed the working group that organized the first face-to-face dialogue meeting.
In follow-up phase, the Steering Committee membership was expanded to include: ACT Alliance; National AIDS Commission; Malawi Council of Churches; Quadria Muslim Association of Malawi; Anglican Council of Malawi; Pentecostal and Charismatic Representative; Episcopal Conference of Malawi.
Initial Face-To-Face Dialogue Meeting
The meeting was attended by some 40 participants, with fairly high-level participants from a good spectrum of faith-based institutions as well as a diverse range of people living with HIV. Over the course of the dialogue, 9 clear follow-up actions were identified. An official report on the meeting is available, as well as an EAA press release.
Ongoing Collaboration and Dialogue
One of the outcomes of Malawi’s 2012 dialogue process was the agreement to come up with a standard HIV and AIDS workplace policy for faith-based organizations, which religious institutions could adapt to better meet their own situation. The policy was developed and now some of the religious institutions have adapted the policy and use it as a guiding tool for their HIV and AIDS work. This has involved a workshop with about 20 religious leaders, both Christian and Muslim, to promote and orient the tool. Over 100 copies of the policy have been printed and widely disseminated.
The national steering committee has also facilitated regional orientation meetings on understanding the concepts of Stigma, Shame, Denial, Inaction and Misaction (SSDIM) as they relate to stigma and discrimination towards PLHIV and how this negatively effects the HIV and AIDS national response. The meetings also included orientation on the SAVE approach and a session on the UNAIDS acceptable language.
Current planning includes a Third Face to Face Dialogue meeting between Religious Leaders and PLHIV focusing on the needs of young people living with HIV (YPLHIV), strengthened platform meetings between religious leaders and PLHIV, follow up on the adoption and implementation of the HIV workplace policy and advocacy for the SAVE approach into national HIV instruments such as the National Strategic Plan, HIV prevention strategy, among others.
“We appreciate this initiative that MANERELA+, MANET+ and others have brought to us. Because of this initiative, we are now able to see things in a different way and we believe the way we relate to our sisters and brothers living with HIV will improve. We pray and hope that this initiative continues because the objective is much way beneficial than what it looks like on the face value.’’ Comment by one of the leaders of Quadria Muslim Association.