Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF) and Yayasan Sime Darby Extend Partnership to End AIDS

The funding extension allows MAF to continue HIV/AIDS advocacy efforts for another 3 years
YSD Governing Council Member Datin Paduka Zaitoon Othman (second from left) receiving the Patron Award in 2018 from MAF chairman Prof Datuk Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman (far left) and MAF patron Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir (third from left). On the far right is Hilton regional manager Jamie Mead Chairman of MAF, Dato Professor Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman (left) and Patron of MAF, Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir (middle) at the Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Award Gala Dinner 2018.

KUALA LUMPUR, 30 APRIL 2020 – Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) and the Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF) have extended their partnership to strengthen the latter’s national advocacy and community efforts for people living with HIV (PLHIV). This marks the second consecutive extension of the grant cycle that has lasted for more than seven years.

The latest extension, valued at RM 950,000, commenced on 1st March 2020 and will end on 23rd February 2023. YSD has been supporting MAF with a sponsorship commitment of RM1.72 million from May 2013 to February 2020.

The latest grant funds the operational cost of a joint-advocacy secretariat for MAF and MAC, covering the salaries of three key team members who will work towards advancing the advocacy agenda spelt out under Malaysia’s National Strategic Plan for Ending AIDS by 2030. Ultimately, the partnership aims to create a wider coverage of HIV prevention treatments, maintain long-term sustainability of AIDS response and reduce AIDS-related stigma and discrimination.

YSD Governing Council Member YBhg. Datin Paduka Zaitoon Dato’ Othman said the funding extension is intended to assist with the continuation, capacity-building and expansion of advocacy work to battle against stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV).

With the funding, YSD is also looking forward to potential national policy changes between now and 2023, following MAC’s positive progress with policy proposals and discussions with the Ministry of Education (MOE) on a sexual health education curriculum, as well as with the Ministry of Human Resources (MOHR) on the adoption of a non-discriminatory policy for PLHIV in the workplace.

“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. YSD feels that it is important to continue supporting these formidable NGOs so that they may continue their advocacy work and community awareness programmes on HIV/AIDS.

“The partnership strives to protect the rights of and improve the quality of life of underprivileged PLHIV in Malaysia, which is in line with YSD’s Community and Health pillar objective. May we continue to make greater strides in our fight against HIV and AIDS,” she added.

MAF’s advocacy efforts to provide stronger protection for PLHIV in the workplace have so far gained traction. Driven by the Malaysian Business Consortium for HIV/AIDS (MBCH), the final draft of HIV/AIDS Workplace Legislation has been completed and ready for submission to lawmakers.

This cornerstone initiative was developed after extensive consultation with key stakeholders in AIDS response, including backbenchers and politicians across the political divide; 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. This remains a persistent barrier that has deprived many PLHIV from entering the job market as well as discouraging private organisations from hiring PLHIV. YSD sits on the MBCH Advisory Board and has been deeply involved in all level of negotiation and advocacy outreach programmes carried out by MAF.

“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,” remarked Professor Dato’ Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman, Chairman of MAF.

“This means that advocacy needs to take centre stage to ensure that our responses are sustainable and inclusive. It is resoundingly comfortable to know that we have YSD as our ally. Even until today, it is still uncommon to have a corporate player to be so heavily invested in national AIDS response in Malaysia in the same vein as YSD. We are grateful to have partnered with YSD in this meaningful journey,” she added.

The partnership with YSD had also enabled MAF and MAC to intensify their push for the improvement of sexual health education curriculum, which until today, remains a politically sensitive issue that often draws strong public opinion. The escalation of sexual transmissions of HIV, especially among youth and teenagers, underscores the need to overhaul the curriculum.

The latest YSD grant cycle is not only designed to keep the momentum of progress that has been achieved thus far, but also 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.

Previously, YSD’s support presided over a period of sustained growth for MAF, marked by an increased number of GLCs and MNCs that have decided to prioritise HIV/AIDS and invest in CSR partnership with MAF.

The success of MAF’s resource mobilisation effort is demonstrated by the expanding rotary of treatment, care and support programmes that have been rolled out in the past three years. These include the PAL Scheme – the HIV medication subsidy scheme that is also funded by YSD; new programmes such as HIV Connect (treatment access programme); MyLady Assistance Scheme (microcredit financing scheme for female PLHIV entrepreneurs); as well as the rejuvenation of existing programmes such as the Paediatric AIDS Fund.

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Last Updated:
13 Oct 2020
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