In a shocking development, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has suspended its vital HIV prevention project in Sindh, Pakistan, leaving over 100 transgender communities without jobs and access to vital healthcare services. The abrupt termination of the project has raised concerns about the wellbeing of thousands of HIV-positive individuals in the region. The UNDP project had been playing a crucial role in HIV prevention efforts in Sindh, an area with alarming HIV positivity rates (up to 5%) in various districts. The suspension of the project has left a significant void in services for the community, highlighting the urgent need for continued intervention and support from relevant authorities.
The suspension comes as some of the programme's sub-recipients are under investigation by the UNDP's independent Office of Audit and Investigations (OAI) in New York. The UNDP has not provided specific details about the investigation, or the parties involved, leaving affected communities in the dark. The Gender Interactive Alliance (GIA), a transgender NGO, was implementing the programme in Sindh, following UNDP protocols, including the registration of transgender individuals with the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) and opening bank accounts for them. The continuity of their actions and work thus remains uncertain.
Advocates and affected individuals are urging the government and relevant authorities to intervene urgently and reinstate the project to prevent further harm to vulnerable populations and combat the growing HIV epidemic in the region. Federal and provincial health departments have criticised the UNDP's decision, demanding clarity about the investigation and seeking a resolution. As of now, the fate of the HIV programme for transgender individuals in Sindh remains uncertain, leaving many vulnerable individuals without much-needed support and services. The call for immediate action is not only about fair treatment but also about safeguarding lives and wellbeing in Sindh. Concerned citizens and organisations are united in their appeal to rectify this situation and prevent any further escalation of the crisis. The focus remains on providing essential support and services to the transgender communities affected by this suspension.