Hohoe (VR), March 01, GNA — The United Nations
Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and its 11 UN agency partners, including the
World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Bank, have declared March 1, as
"Zero Discrimination Day".
The UN, therefore, urged each person to make some noise around zero discrimination, to speak up and prevent discrimination from standing in the way of achieving ambitions, goals and dreams.
A statement from UNAIDS said everyone might have experienced discrimination of some kind during their lives; however, non-discrimination is a human right.
Equally, states and individuals have a legal obligation not to discriminate.
Discrimination has many forms; from racial or religious discrimination to discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation or age, and to bullying at school or at work.
It noted that in only three out of 10 countries worldwide do equal numbers of girls and boys attend senior high school, and people living with disabilities are nearly three times more likely to be denied healthcare than other people.
The statement quoted Dr Muchael Sidibé, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, as saying: "Everyone has the right to be treated with respect, to live free from discrimination, coercion and abuse."
“Discrimination doesn’t just hurt individuals; it hurts everyone, whereas welcoming and embracing diversity in all its forms brings benefits for all.”
The statement said zero discrimination was an integral part of UNAIDS’ vision and for this year’s Zero Discrimination Day UNAIDS is calling for zero discrimination in healthcare settings.
It said right to health is a fundamental human right that included access to affordable, timely and quality healthcare services for all, yet discrimination remained widespread in healthcare settings, creating a serious barrier to access to HIV services.
“Healthcare settings should be safe and supportive environments. It is unacceptable that discrimination is inhibiting access to care today,” the statement said.
“Eliminating discrimination in healthcare settings is critical, and we must demand that it become a reality,” it said.
Data from 50 countries from the People Living with HIV Stigma Index shows that one in eight people living with HIV was denied healthcare.
Around 60 per cent of European Union/European Economic Area countries report that stigma and discrimination among healthcare professionals remained a barrier to the provision of adequate HIV prevention services for men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs.
“This year, UNAIDS is calling on everyone to make some noise for #zerodiscrimination. Zero Discrimination Day is an opportunity to highlight how everyone can be part of the transformation and take a stand for a fair and just society,” the statement said.
UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organisations — UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank —and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.