More than 35 students from 22 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, Haiti and France have completed a course on HIV as part of their Master’s Degree in International Health at the Senghor University based in Alexandria. The module was established by UNAIDS and the Department of Health at the University in 2011 in a bid to give students a better understanding of the complexities of the global response to HIV.
This is the second year that students have participated in the programme. “I welcome this strong cooperation between UNAIDS and the Senghor University,” said Professor Albert Lourde, Rector of the Senghor University. “It shows how French expertise is unique and how we need to encourage education and knowledge sharing across Francophone countries to effectively deal with issues related to HIV.”
The course comprises of 10 sessions which aim to strengthen the student’s scientific and global public health knowledge and enable them to support their national AIDS responses once they return to their home countries. This year’s course included sessions on sharing epidemiology and medical knowledge on HIV and the contribution of communities and civil society to the AIDS response.
During the course, students were encouraged to reflect on some of the major challenges to achieving the targets and commitments in the 2011 United Nations Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS. The course concluded with an interactive video-conference opened by Professor Lourde that highlighted the major international initiatives to promote effective and efficient responses to HIV. These include an initiative that aims to ensure 15 million people are on antiretroviral treatment by 2015 as well as the Global Plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive. During the conference, participants also discussed human rights in the context of HIV and analyzed the specific challenges faced by the West and Central African region.
As part of the programme some of the students had the opportunity to complete a mandatory three month internship at UNAIDS offices in West and Central Africa and the Middle East and North Africa where they learnt first-hand about the complexities of responding to HIV. UNAIDS will continue its partnership with the University to ensure that AIDS remains as part of the curriculum of its Master’s degree in International Health programme as the university expands its campuses to other French speaking countries throughout Africa.