Regional HIV/AIDS Information Network (RHAIN) - East Africa and southern Africa

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The Regional HIV/AIDS Information Network (RHAIN) is a technical resource network aimed at mobilising the strengths and expertise of organisations working in the area of HIV/AIDS information and media development in southern and eastern Africa.

The objectives of RHAIN are to:
  • foster greater collaboration and joint advocacy efforts on HIV/AIDS in the region;
  • strengthen the flow of information on HIV/AIDS at regional and national level; and
  • promote media development and training on HIV/AIDS in southern Africa.
Main Communication Strategies
Designed to strengthen the flow of information on HIV/AIDS at the regional and national level, the programme includes:
  • Regional audit of HIV/AIDS information activities;
  • regional HIV/AIDS information needs assessment to publicise diverse information channels on HIV/AIDS both regionally and internationally. These channels include government initiatives and civil society programmes. The goal of this assessment is to develop a regional database on HIV/AIDS information and communication programmes and activities being undertaken in the region to the end of highlighting best practices and research efforts. The information needs assessment will take the form of a survey to be distributed to organisations working in the area of HIV/AIDS in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Namibia, and Lesotho.
  • Plus News, an e-mail and web-based news and information bulletin on HIV/AIDS distributed to regional media through the United Nations Integrated Regional Information Network (UN-IRIN) subscriber base and via the AF-AIDS Forum. RHAIN partners are asked to provide editorial contributions and are encouraged to further disseminate Plus News. SAfAIDS provides a guide to UN-IRIN on the reporting procedures for HIV/AIDS. Editorial support is available from RHAIN partners. RHAIN members will explore the possibility of utilising radio to further disseminate information.
  • the promotion of media development and training on HIV/AIDS in southern Africa through concept papers including a training manual for African journalists to enable media practitioners in Africa to better understand, effectively cover and report on the epidemic; technical assistance in integrating HIV/AIDS into the existing curricula of regional and national organisations; the development of a regional database of journalists who have undertaken training on HIV/AIDS to facilitate follow-up and monitoring of the impact of training programmes; columnist service on HIV/AIDS; and HIV/AIDS feature service; and
  • the provision of support for the World AIDS Campaign (which focuses on young people, who are most vulnerable to HIV infection). RHAIN will support the packaging of material for use by radio, a publicity campaign in SAfAIDS Newsletters and Newsflashes, the development of fact sheet on boys and HIV/AIDS, the creation of posters featuring eminent persons from the region, the production of relevant screensavers (to be offered on the SAfAIDS website), the production of a media pack around the theme of "I Care, Do You?", the provision of five one-minute radio inserts on youth, and the dissemination of a report on young men and HIV/AIDS.
An electronic forum has been established to facilitate the continuous sharing of information on information and communication activities, and allow for the monitoring, implementation and evaluation of joint activities. The address for the forum is: rhain@lists.healthlink.org.za.
Development Issues: 

HIV/AIDS.

Key Points: 

RHAIN was established following an April 2001 meeting in Harare and a subsequent meeting in May 2001 in Pretoria that brought together organisations working in the area of HIV/AIDS communication, information, and media development. Participants at the first meeting recognised the need for:

  • greater collaboration between partners to avoid duplicating work;
  • bolstering of regional initiatives aimed at increasing the flow of information; and
  • strengthening of the media's capacity to foster more informed and sensitive reporting on HIV/AIDS.

RHAIN activities are coordinated by a Secretariat who is appointed on a rotating basis by participating organisations. The appointed organisation assumes leadership of the Secretariat, who is responsible for coordinating, hosting, and reporting on RHAIN meetings. At the bi-annual meetings, members are expected to provide updated feedback, share experiences, and discuss constraints regarding the implementation of joint activities.


Future initiatives include:

  • a series of films produced on HIV/AIDS in the region (to be ready by World AIDS Day);
  • the use of SABA News to disseminate information in the region on HIV/AIDS and the World AIDS Campaign; and
  • the cultivation of potential new partnerships with organisations like SANASO. RHAIN members are asked to invite these potential partners to meetings and to share relevant documents.

Partners

AF-AIDS Forum, SAfAIDS, PANOS, Health Development Network (HDN), Health Systems Trust (HST), The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), UN-IRIN, German Development Corporation (GTZ), Africa Alive!, Inter Press Service (IPS), and OneWorld.

Source: 

Working Paper entitled "Regional HIV/AIDS Information Network for Southern and Eastern Africa." Draft: July 2001, sent to The Communication Initiative by Richard Delate, UNAIDS Information and Media Strategist on March 11, 2002.

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