Positive Partnerships: Celebrating Peace Corps Week
February 23—March 1, 2014 is Peace Corps Week. The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) works with the Peace Corps in Mozambique to help achieve its mission of eliminating pediatric HIV. Marie McLeod, director of the Peace Corps’ Office of Global Health and HIV shares her experience with EGPAF and the value of its partnership with the Peace Corps.
During my years working with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), I was lucky enough to witness firsthand the extraordinary work Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) does to help men, women, and children who are living with or affected by HIV. EGPAF provides invaluable support to both facility and community-based programs working to expand access to HIV prevention, care, and treatment services for mothers around the world. Many of their community-based programs rely on strong networks of mothers living with HIV, connecting with other HIV-positive mothers, and helping them to understand and live with HIV. It is a strong statement on the power of the community and what we can achieve when we connect with others.
Now that I am working at the Peace Corps, I see that often in partnership with organizations such as EGPAF, Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) play a special role within the U.S. government working with local communities to accomplish international development work in the hardest-to-reach areas of the globe. Our Volunteers and staff are key partners in international global health initiatives including the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), working through grassroots efforts to contribute to coordinated global campaigns. Volunteers work with local government counterparts, private sector partners and, most of all, community members, to assist people living with and affected by HIV to get access to HIV prevention, care, and treatment.
Regarding Peace Corps’ response to HIV, the agency focuses on three main objectives tied to PEPFAR. First, Peace Corps works to scale up combination prevention and treatment through Volunteers’ work on maternal and child health and prevention education in schools, clinics, and communities. Second, as Volunteers live and work within their communities, PCVs are encouraged to use their unique community relationships to implement key programs with people living with HIV, orphans and vulnerable children, and young people (particularly in reducing HIV stigma and discrimination).
Lastly, Peace Corps partners with countries in a joint move to country-led, managed, and implemented responses; increasing support for civil society as a partner in the global AIDS response; expanding collaboration with multilateral and bilateral partners; and increasing private sector mobilization toward an AIDS-free generation. PCVs and Peace Corps staff live this approach every day because they know that they cannot be successful alone.
Peace Corps is proud to work side by side with EGPAF as a partner in the fight to secure an AIDS-free generation.
Marie McLeod is the director of the Office of Global Health and HIV for the Peace Corps, based in Washington, D.C. From 2004-2009, she worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development in South Africa.