The first conference in Malawi of DREAM's project partners took place last August 20th at the Sogecoa Golden Peacock Hotel in Lilongwe.
The conference was an opportunity to bring together those who in these 9 years of history of the DREAM program in the country have worked on its development and rooting in the Malawian context.
The conference was attended by delegates from 35 different organizations that represented the world of donors, other NGOs cooperating and collaborating with the program, the Government of Malawi as well as representatives of the business world and the most important commercial banks of the country.
The conference was introduced by Mr. Victor Sandikonda , Deputy Principal Secretary – Office of President Cabinet , Department of Nutrition, who stressed the role that the DREAM program has had in supporting the country's response to the AIDS epidemic .
Mr. Sandikonda also pointed out that , despite the enormous progress of the country in the fight against AIDS, the problem remains of primary importance, and it is needed to keep the alertness and to intensify the efforts to reach as soon as possible to the coveted goal of defeating the pandemic.
Immediately after, the Country Director of the DREAM program in Malawi, Ellard Alumando, presented the results achieved by the program which now provides treatment to more than 58,000 patients cared for and shared with the partners attending the conference, the challenges that the program intends to address in the near future, bearing in mind the great and positive changes in the context in which DREAM works and in particular the choice of the country to adopt the option B + for the prevention of mother to child infection and to develop a network of laboratories for advanced diagnosis of AIDS.
Among the most important challenges which dr. Alumando addressed we recall the link between AIDS and malnutrition, the strengthening of the system of laboratories, the great challenge of the "retention in care" of the thousands of people put in therapy in recent years and the problems related to access high quality services in remote rural areas .
The project partners, in particular the Norwegian NGO "Norwegian Church AID", a recent supporter of the DREAM program in the district of Balaka and the CHAI (Clinton Health Access Initiative), a long-time partner, confronted on these topics.
Both partners have stressed the importance of the partnership with DREAM especially as a method to propose innovative solutions to the problems of Malawi and as another way to ensure quality services to Malawians citizens.
From the discussion their desire to continue to work together on the themes chosen by DREAM in the near future came out, but also the wish to share the information that emerge from the different projects, to allow all those who work for the development of Malawi to provide effective solutions, suitable to the needs of the country.
Finally Pacem Kawonga , testimonial of the DREAM program and coordinator of the DREAM center of Mtemgowamtemga contributed to the work of the conference with a touching testimony of her experience as a woman with AIDS who has found a new life thanks to the treatment received by the DREAM program and now fights so that all the women of her country have access to the treatment to which they are entitled.