Addis Ababa: Availability of spatial data, lack of trained manpower and lack of awareness are the main areas of concern for geospatial stakeholders working in the health sector, especially HIV/AIDS. The workshop on ‘Enlisting Mapping Agencies in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS: Building Partnerships with Ministries of Health and Social Services and National AIDS Commissions discussed the pertinent need, issues, challenges and opportunities for geospatial technologies in combating HIV/AIDS today here. This pre-conference workshop of the first meeting of the Committee on Development Information, Science & Technology (CODIST-I) addressed the health issues parting from the practise of discussing issues like natural resources mapping, disaster management and climate change.
The day saw several status reports and case-studies of the use of mapping technologies in various countries of Africa, where the spread of HIV/AIDS is rampant. Speakers from Tanzania, Malawi, Rwanda, Kenya and Ethiopia felt that GIS is a unique tool to combat such epidemics but at the same time felt it should be integrated along with other segments like education and primary health to get maximum benefit out of the efforts. For this, collaboration and building partnerships is an efficient way, the speakers echoed in unison.
Prioritising a national spatial data infrastructure to contribute to the harmonising efforts, devising effective ways to make data available in a standard format supported by adequate budgetary support and allocating resources to building capacity are the main resolutions that came from the day-long deliberations. Delegates from national mapping agencies and ministries of health agreed to meet before May 2009 to come out with a strategy for mapping data on HIV/AIDS at second administrative level.