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KUALA LUMPUR, May 6 — Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) has extended their partnership with the Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF) to further strengthen efforts to help people living with HIV (PLHIV).
The latest extension saw an addition of another three years to the grant cycle valued at RM950,000 which commenced on March 1, 2020 and will end on February 23, 2023.
This marks the second consecutive extension of the grant cycle by YSD that started in May 2013 and ended last February valued at RM1.72 million.
The grant will fund the operational cost for three key members of a joint-advocacy secretariat for MAF and Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) who will work towards pushing the advocacy agenda under Malaysia’s National Strategic Plan for Ending AIDS by 2030.
According to YSD governing council member Datin Paduka Zaitoon Othman, the funding extension will assist with the continuation, capacity-building and expansion of advocacy work to battle against stigma and discrimination of PLHIV.
Following MAC’s positive progress with policy proposals and discussions with the Education Ministry on a sexual health education curriculum, as well as with the Human Resources Ministry on the adoption of a non-discriminatory policy for PLHIV in the workplace.
With the funding, YSD is also looking forward to potential national policy changes between now and 2023.
“Among the many outcomes of YSD’s long history of supporting MAF’s initiatives is Malaysia being a leader in Southeast Asia for its effective implementation of the state-funded harm reduction programme led by MAF and MAC.”
“The partnership strives to protect the rights and improve the quality of life of underprivileged PLHIV in Malaysia, which is in line with YSD’s Community and Health pillar objective.”
The MAF’s advocacy efforts was driven by the Malaysian Business Consortium for HIV/AIDS, which completed the final draft of HIV/AIDS Workplace Legislation and is ready to be submitted to lawmakers.
The initiative was developed after extensive consultation with key stakeholders in the AIDS response, including backbenchers and politicians; HIV/AIDS civil societies; legal and human rights fraternity, business associations and PLHIV themselves.
Efforts are also underway to get health insurance providers in Malaysia to remove HIV/AIDS from exclusion policies for health coverage which has been a persistent barrier that has deprived many PLHIV from entering the job market as well as discouraging private organisations from hiring PLHIV.
“While it is true that we have made remarkable breakthroughs in the area of HIV treatment and prevention and that we are inching closer to finding a functional cure for HIV.”
“We must work with similar vigour to ensure that the very populations who can most benefit from these scientific advances are actually able to do so,” said the Chairman of MAF, Professor Datuk Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman.
Dr Adeeba also said that advocacy needed to take centre stage to ensure their responses were sustainable and inclusive while extending her gratitude towards YSD for their funding.
The continued partnership with YSD will also enable MAF and MAC to further push for the improvement of sexual health education curriculum since there’s been an escalation of HIV transmission especially among youth and teenagers.
Besides that, the latest YSD grant cycle is also looking to address other remaining gaps in AIDS response such as mental health issues among PLHIV.
The grant will also support training programmes to equip case workers with counselling skills to manage newly-diagnosed patients.
MAF gained a period of sustained growth from the support of YSD and an increased number of government linked companies and multinational corporations that invested in CSR partnership with the foundation.