Vanuatu Health Care Workers meeting on HIV and human rights

May 2009


Vanuatu Health Care Workers met in Santo from 4-7 May 2009 to examine ways of ensuring  that human rights is at the center of overall health efforts on HIV in Vanuatu. Marina Laklotal the HIV Coordinator for Vanuatu commented that “this is the first comprehensive programme for health workers on human rights and HIV for Vanuatu”. The Ministry is planning to support a nationwide programme on HIV and human rights with the support of Global Fund and Pacific Regional Rights Resource Team of the Secretariat of the Pacific Communities.

During the opening of this 4 day training the Acting Director for Northern Health Care Mrs.Gerolyn Tagaro reminded the health care workers that an effective health response to HIV prevention and management requires a supportive environment where the rights of people living with HIV and most at risk groups such as women are fully protected. She commented that “health workers are instrumental in promoting universal access to healthcare”.

She urged all health care workers to protect privacy and confidential as this will encourage more people to come forward for HIV testing. Senior Dental Therapist added that “this is an eye opener on the rights, conventions and laws that exist and are relevant to us in Vanuatu, we have a duty to respect the rights of PLWHIV and marginalized groups and provide essential services and care”.


According to the Vanuatu HIV Coordinator Marina Laklotal this training is important as it will enable the health workers to be more confident in delivering the service. Although the prevalence of HIV is low there is an alarming STIs in Vanuatu especially Chlamydia infection among ante natal mothers.

The training highlighted important issues such as UN Declaration on Human Right, CEDAW (Convention on the elimination  all forms of discrimination against women), CRC (Convention on the Rights of the Child) and linkages with Vanuatu National Constitution. These declarations and conventions are new to health workers and the challenge is how this can be applied to the national national response to HIV.

The health workers stressed the importance of working together with stakeholder partners in the implementation of the conventions ratified by the Government of Vanuatu.    The RRRT/SPC trainer Seema Naidu commended the Ministry for Health on their commitment towards human rights and recognizing its importance in national and provincial health initiatives on prevention, treatment and care.   At the end of the training, the participants were given the space to freely key issues such of HIV stigma and discrimination, human rights, gender and emerging legal concerns around HIV such as privacy and confidentiality, access to health care and medicines.   

For further information contact Marina Lokotal (+678 22512  ext 241 ) or Seema Naidu at RRRT/SPC (+679 3305582)