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A Partnership For Progress: UNDP In Mongolia 1997 | 19 January 2016

A Partnership for Progress: The United Nations Development Programme in Mongolia

Editor: David South

Publisher: UNDP Mongolia Communications Office

Published: 1997

Background: The Partnership for Progress brochure raised the curtain on UNDP’s programme in Mongolia and my work heading UNDP Mongolia’s Communications Office. I led the Office from 1997 to 1999, garnering awards and praise for the quality of the offline and online resources.

A Partnership for Progress

“For years we were under the domination of foreign countries. So really, Mongolia is a new nation.” With these words, Prime Minister M. Enkhsaikhan described the enormity of the task ahead for Mongolians. While Mongolia has been an independent nation for most of this century, this has not been the case with its economy. Just as a new democratic nation was born in the 1990s, so Mongolia’s economy lost the large subsidies and trading arrangements it had in the past with the Soviet Union. The time to learn about free markets and the global economy had arrived.

Under socialism, Mongolia was dependent on the Soviet Union. Prior to the socialist revolution in 1921, the country experienced hundreds of years under the influence of the Chinese. It is only since 1990 that Mongolia has had an opportunity to build the foundations of an independent economy and political culture. But it takes money and know-how to make the transition work. This is the kind of nation-building support the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) specializes in. UNDP’s fifth country plan for Mongolia has come to an end, and in cooperation with the Mongolian Government the sixth – the Partnership for Progress – has begun.

Meeting the challenges of transition

The international community rapidly responded to Mongolia’s needs in the early 1990s. Along with the large international donors, the UN system is playing a pivotal role with UNICEF, UNFPA, WHO and UNDP to assist in the country’s social reconstruction. Other agencies now operating in Mongolia include UNESCO, UNV, UNHCHR, World Bank and the IMF. The UN’s capacity to coordinate, not only within the UN family of organizations, but also with donors and the international NGO community has proved extremely useful in mobilizing the technical assistance needed at this critical time. The goal is capacity building, or the transformation of both the human and economic resource base to fit the economic and social demands of transition.

UNDP’s Partnership for Progress with the Government of Mongolia serves as the framework for assisting the Government to combat the worst effects of poverty and social disintegration brought on by economic transition. The programmes and projects mounted with UNDP assistance not only tackle the lack of material resources, but also the dearth of practical experience in the strategies and methodologies required to nurture open government and encourage democratic procedures, protect human rights, preserve the environment and promote the private sector.

Mongolia is a large country with poor infrastructure. This means it is not only difficult to transport food or make a phone call, but also to develop and deliver programmes that reach the entire country. It is through the expertise of the UNDP, drawing experience from around the world, that these obstacles to a market economy and an open democracy can be overcome.

UNDP has had a country office in Mongolia since the 1970s. UNDP’s resource mobilization target for the five year programme from 1997 to 2001 is US $27.5 million, with 45 percent to be directed to poverty alleviation, 30 percent to governance and 15 percent to environmental protection. With this material input and the goodwill it generates, the Mongolian Government can design appropriate social and political structures to support their efforts in seeking lasting solutions to the problems brought on by transition. Mongolia can then become an equal player in the global community of the 21st Century.

UNDP in Mongolia

The UNDP’s programmes in Mongolia follow the global principle of helping people to help themselves. Through a close working relationship with the Mongolian Government (the Partnership for Progress), UNDP personnel work with many thousands of Mongolian counterparts in government, academia and NGOs all over the country. In addition, UNDP has a large contingent of United Nations Volunteers (UNVs) deployed in Mongolia. There are over 27 international UNVs working in all UNDP programme areas and further 26 national UNVs working as community activists to foster participation in the poverty alleviation programme. Another six national UNVs are involved in the UNESCO/UNDP decentralization project.

A peaceful transition

The transition in the 1990s from socialism to democracy and free markets has profoundly transformed the country’s political and economic character. Mongolia is a young democracy that is also a model for bloodless political revolution. Today, this participatory democracy boasts scores of newspapers, dozens of political parties and a vigorous parliamentary system. On the economic front, a command-based economy has been replaced by free markets. But there has been a high price to pay in social disintegration and dysfunction, as the former social supports disappear and their replacements fail to “catch” everyone. As with all social upheaval, vulnerable groups – the elderly, the young, the weak – bear the brunt of the social and economic shocks as the old gives way to the new.

The bubble bursts

Before the 1990s, the Mongolian economy was totally dependent on subsidies from the Soviet Union. The state owned all means of production and private enterprise was foresworn. Farmers and herders were organized into cooperatives. Factories had more workers than they needed. Wages were low but no one starved. The state provided for the basics of life – health care, education, jobs and pensions. Free fuel was provided to get through the severely cold winters, and during blizzards lives were saved in stranded communities with food and medicine drops by Russian helicopters.

The bubble burst in 1991 when the Soviet Union disintegrated and the subsidies came to an end. Prior to this, communist countries accounted for 99 percent of Mongolia’s imports and 94 percent of its exports. Mongolia’s economy suddenly lost its buttress and immediately collapsed.

A sense of freedom

Although the economic picture was bleak, politically Mongolians rejoiced and embraced the principles of Western parliamentary democracy. A new sense of political and personal freedom took hold. Freedom of religion ensured a revival of Buddhism. Monasteries sacked and razed under the Communists were restored and religious observance once again became part of daily life.

Collectivization began to give way to free markets and privatization. A voucher system was used to redistribute the assets of many state-owned entities. Each citizen was issued with vouchers to the value of 10,000 tugrigs (at the time worth US $100). They could be bought and sold like shares of stock.

Livestock was privatized and previous limitations regarding ownership of animals were lifted. As a result, the composition of herds changed and the numbers of animals soared to the highest levels in 50 years. While the collapse of the state sector has led to severe hardship, many nomadic herders who astutely manage their herds are self-sufficient in meat and milk. Many continue the old energy saving ways, including collecting dung for fuel and using their animals for transport. Some find it possible to live almost completely outside the cash economy.

Transition shock

The spectre of the worst aspects of market economies soon loomed for many who had known only a poor but predictable life under a command economy. Suddenly unemployment, inflation and reduced services became the norm. Previously reliable export markets in the newly constituted Commonwealth of Independent States disappeared entirely, leaving a ballooning trade deficit and a plummeting tugrig. The fall in global prices for cashmere and copper have only exacerbated an already critical situation.

Poverty strikes

Poverty and starvation hit with a vengeance. According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) figures, a third of the population now lives at starvation levels. The demise of collectivized farming has contributed to both a shortage of food and reduction in food self-sufficiency. Thousands of homeless children work, beg or steal in the streets of the capital, Ulaan Baatar. Many descend into the sewers for warmth to escape the subzero temperatures that prevail for most of the year, while others seek refuge in the few children’s shelters in the city.

Unemployment is high. Women are particularly vulnerable, with more than 100,000 summarily removed from the pension rolls at the beginning of 1997. The retired, whose pensions have decreased dramatically in value are also in severe distress, with almost all relying on their families, friends and neighbours. Those without such support are left to live a precarious existence.

Poverty alleviation

To reverse a rapidly deteriorating situation, the Government instituted a six-year National Poverty Alleviation Programme (NPAP) with the primary objective of reducing poverty by 10 percent by the year 2000. Designed with assistance from UNDP, donors and Mongolian NGOs, the NPAP is founded on new principles unseen before in Mongolia. Responsibility is decentralized, with each of the 21 aimags (provinces) having a local Poverty Alleviation Council with responsibility for identification, formulation and appraisal and approval of projects. Thus the people of the area can respond to local needs – identify them, propose solutions to problems and act to determine their own futures.

The Mongolian National Poverty Alleviation Programme addresses a wide range of social issues, including income poverty and the crisis in the health and education sectors. Solutions to such urgent social welfare problems are a high priority for the Mongolian Government – and international assistance is critical. The introduction of fees for health and education services that were previously free has placed an unbearable financial strain on some families. School drop-out rates and truancy are problems in both urban and rural areas. The costs associated with general maintenance and heating of public buildings adds another financial burden in the transition period.

Emphasis on women

A US $10 million soft loan from the World Bank for the period 1996 to 1999 supports Mongolia’s efforts to follow up on the commitments of the World Summit for Social Development, the Fourth World Conference for Women and other recent global initiatives.

The NPAP institutional framework focuses on explicit measures to alleviate poverty by attending to sustainable livelihoods, employment creation, gender equality, grassroots development and human resource capacity building. Mongolia’s historically high levels of literacy, health care and education auger well for the future of this approach, in spite of the many obstacles facing the people.

In addition, the Women’s Development Fund and the Social Assistance Fund have mobilized national NGOs and international donors for both income generation schemes and distress relief for the vulnerable. The success of women in actively implementing projects with the help of the various funds is a testament to the strength and resilience of ordinary Mongolians.

Working with the National Poverty Alleviation Programme initiatives, the UN System Action Plan and Strategy provides technical assistance and capacity training to realize the objectives of the national programme.

In all, eight new projects are on the agenda for 1997, including credit provision, skills and vocational training, water and sanitation provision, urban renewal, pre-school education and one capacity building project at the institutional level.

Freedom of information

Under the Partnership for Progress, UNDP is working with donors and international NGOs to promote and foster a participatory democracy. A key component of good government and democracy is the free flow of information. That is why UNDP has placed a significant portion of its resources into ensuring government, NGOs and citizens have access to the state-of-the-art computer communications technology, especially the Internet and e-mail. The Governance and Economic Transition Programme will have nine new projects by the end of 1997: seven to support national reforms in government and the civil service, two to support journalists as they come to grips with their new responsibilities in a democratic society, and one in the tertiary education sector, following a series of faculty-strengthening education projects that have been ongoing since the early 1990s.

The Consolidation of Democracy through Strengthening of Journalism project offers direct support to working journalists.

Six journalism centres throughout the country offer hands-on training courses and access to news and information from international and Mongolian sources.

At the aimag level, Citizen Information Service Centres will be custom tailored to the information needs of each aimag’s residents. These centres will increase the free flow of information from the capital, which is currently hampered by poor communications infrastructure.

Decentralization, governance and economic transition

The Government has wisely foreseen the need to engage in a fundamental shift in how Mongolia is governed. Not only should it provide institutions that can address the social and economic shocks of the 1990s, but it also must provide a stable and efficient policy to ensure a prosperous and secure future for Mongolia.

Decentralization in government administration is a cornerstone of the Government’s policy to make managers of public services more responsive to local people’s needs. In an ambitious programme to decentralize and consolidate democracy in Mongolia, the Government has promised to devolve decision-making more and more to the local level. The UNDP plays a key role in ensuring this process continues and that local politicians acquire the skills necessary to handle these new responsibilities.

A respect for nature

Mongolia’s flora, fauna and unspoiled landscapes are at a watershed. Mongolians have traditionally had a respect for the natural environment as a source of food and shelter from the harsh climate. These close ties have meant that environmental preservation and respect for nature form an integral part of cultural traditions. As far back as the reign of Chingis Khan in the 13th century, Mongolia has had nature reserves. The new social and economic imperatives have put a strain both on these traditions and the environment, with a corresponding stress on Mongolians.

Semi-nomadic herding still forms the backbone of the country, and the pressures of the 90s have only re-enforced this. Many Mongolians have turned to herding as the only guarantee of a steady supply of food and economic well-being.

The environment is regularly challenged by natural disasters. In 1996, a rash of forest fires destroyed large swathes of land and caused extensive economic and environmental damage. Floods, heavy snowfall, extremely low temperatures, strong winds, dust storms, and earthquakes are all natural hazards for Mongolia.

Keeping Mongolia green

UNDP’s mandate in environmental protection and preservation is reflected in its support to the Government. As Mongolia addresses the challenge of up-holding international conventions to which it is signatory, it must sustain and preserve a decent and dignified lifestyle for all its citizens.

In the area of disaster management, the Government is emphasizing preventative measures as much as relief. UNDP support is focused on an extensive campaign for preparedness, technical support and capacity building to deal with both natural and man-made disasters.

The flagship programme for the environment is the Government’s Mongolia Agenda for the 21st Century (MAP 21). The Government’s continuing biodiversity programme, under the auspices of the Global Environment Fund (GEF), has already shown results, with the on-going mapping of the country’s biodiversity for future generations.

Two new projects were initiated in 1997: the Sustainable Development Electronic Information Network reaches out to people in remote and isolated locations. The Energy Efficient Social Service Provision Project has introduced straw-bale construction, an environmentally-friendly, energy-efficient and pollution-reducing building technology. This technology uses straw for insulation within the walls of buildings. Schools and health clinics will be built with straw insulation by work crews trained by the project.

The environmental challenges Mongolia faces are acknowledged by the world community as both requiring a global and a national commitment. UNDP acts as conduit for a number of globally-supported programmes focused on local action. The axiom “think globally, act locally” is the principle guiding the UNDP/Mongolian Partnership for Progress’ environmental activities.

“A Partnership for Progress: The United Nations Development Programme in Mongolia”: UNDP Mongolia Communications Office, 1997

Mongolia was experiencing ‘shock therapy’ during the 1990s, as well as austerity, as a result of the collapse in subsidies and state supports when trade relationships with the Soviet Union ended.

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Starting From Scratch: The Challenge Of Transition

By David South (Canada), UNV Information Officer, UNDP, Mongolia

UNV News #78 November 97

After seven years of transition to a market economy, Mongolia – a former satellite of the Soviet Union that has had a democratic government since 1992 – has been profoundly changed. Where it once had a rigid communist government and few contacts with the west, Mongolia has pursued rapid economic, political and social liberalisation. Mongolia has a small population – 2.3 million – spread out over a vast territory wedged between Russia and China.

Communication has in many ways deteriorated over the past seven years as the old communication networks from the communist era have not been fully replaced by the private sector. More and more it became apparent that government and the private sector were almost working in the dark in understanding how transition has affected Mongolians.

In partnership with the Mongolian government, UNDP initiated the researching of Mongolia’s first human development report back in the middle of 1996. It was launched on September 5 of this year, with UNVs playing a key role. To lead the team in producing the report, British poverty specialist and UNV Shahin Yaqub was brought in. Only 29-years-old – one of the youngest UNVs in Mongolia – Yaqub joined a rapidly expanding UNV presence in the country. There are now 24 international UNVs and 26 Mongolian UNVs deployed throughout the country in UNDP’s projects.

The thirst for expertise in Mongolia – a country undergoing the growing pains of transition to a market economy – has placed high demand on UNVs. UNVs occupy senior roles in all of UNDP’s projects.

The 1997 Mongolian Human Development Report is a prime example of the important goal of capacity building conducted by the UNDP. For Yaqub, the report’s principal author, it was like starting from scratch. A poverty research office had to be set up before the work could begin. A team of Mongolia’s top statistical researchers had to be trained in the latest methodologies for social research.

Yaqub was excited by the project. He said: ”There was no office when I first came. We had to organise the office to understand who does what and basically create the focal point for poverty analysis in Mongolia”.

Yaqub also had some of his basic assumptions tested. The small population of this country – only 2.3 million – had meant the previous communist regime was able to build up a large archive of statistics on the population. A good portion of the information was not up to international standards, but it potentially represented a wellspring of data to start from. “Mongolia is number-rich. To even have that kind of data is very rare for a developing country. But unfortunately we found all this information was stored on Russian mainframe computers that didn’t work anymore!”

During the actual production of the report, Yaqub was joined by three more UNVs: Mustafa Eric, a Turkish journalist working with the Press Institute of Mongolia, Jerry van Mourik, a Dutch journalist now working as the Support Officer to the United Nations Resident Co-ordinator, and UNDP Information Officer David South, a former journalist with the Financial Times in London, England.

The high-profile role played by media UNVs was crucial if the report was to not end up collecting dust on a government shelf. The report is a repository of essential and new information on the state of human development in Mongolia, including data showing rising poverty rates and serious threats to food security. Like all human development reports produced by UNDP, it was not meant to be a prescriptive tract, but a lubricant for a national debate on sustainable development in Mongolia. This altered the design and presentation of the report.

Instead of looking academic, the report took on the appearance of a magazine, from its cover to colourful children’s paintings inside. UNV Mustafa not only assisted with the report’s design and production, he also used his contacts in the Mongolian media to ensure the report was distributed across the country. UNV van Mourik assisted with publicity, including producing an emotionally-charged television commercial weaving together vignettes from Mongolia’s recent history to tell the story of human development.

Already in its second print run in both English and Mongolian, the report has been adopted as their study guide by Mongolians wanting to learn English.

“Mongolia is a rewarding place to work,” said Yaqub. “As a technical specialist and UNV, what you bring to the job is valued. I researched poverty for five years before coming to Mongolia and I felt I had something to contribute. But I also realised I had something to learn as well. You always have to keep in mind you are bringing your own baggage to the job – be it cultural, emotional or intellectual. Coming from an academic background, I was not afraid to be told I was wrong.”

Yaqub, who had worked in poverty analysis in the Philippines and Bangladesh before coming to Mongolia, will never forget the country that sparked his new passion: horses.

“You give up things as a volunteer – your time, your income, all the things you took for granted back home. But what you give up is compensated by rewarding work and good friends. When I learned to ride a horse, I can place it directly and clearly to Mongolia – that memory will always be with me.”

Just before Yaqub left Mongolia for work with UNDP in New York, he participated in a series of public debates in one of Mongolia’s poorest provinces, Khuvsgul aimag. The public debates are used to introduce the report to the grassroots while sparking discussion on sustainable human development.

Starting from scratch – The challenge of transition

Résumé en Français

UNV News #78 November 97

Sept années de transition vers une économie de marché et une libéralisation rapide tant économique et politique que sociale, ont profondément transformé la Mongolie, vaste territoire à faible densité de population bordé par la Russie et la Chine. Les communi-cations se sont fortement détériorées et ni le gouvernement ni le secteur privé ne se trouvaient manifestement en mesure d’évaluer l’impact de la transition sur la population. En collaboration avec le gouvernement, le PNUD a donc procédé à l’établissement du premier rapport sur le développement humain en Mongolie, publié en septembre de cette année.

Plusieurs VNU parmi le nombre croissant de volontaires actuellement en poste en Mongolie au sein de projets du PNUD – 24 internationaux et 26 nationaux – y ont pris une part prépondérante, tout particulièrement Shahin Yaqub, spécialiste britannique en recherche sur la pauvreté. Pour Yaqub, puis pour ses trois collègues VNU Mustafa Erik, Jerry van Mourik et David South, le défi consistait à partir de rien – pas de bureau, une base de statistiques existante… mais sur des ordinateurs russes hors service – pour mettre sur pied un rapport riche en informations qui, une fois terminé, n’irait pas dormir sur l’étagère d’un bureau gouvernemental mais servirait de base à une action durable à l’échelon national. Grâce au format adopté – un magazine abondamment illustré – , à sa présentation par les médias – notamment la télévision – et à sa diffusion à travers le pays entier, c’est chose faite. Le rapport, imprimé en anglais et mongol, sert même de guide aux Mongoliens étudiant l’anglais.

Pour Yaqub, qui a depuis rejoint le PNUD à New York après avoir participé à une série de débats au sein d’une des provinces les plus pauvres de Mongolie destinés à promouvoir un développement humain durable, ce fut une expérience unique en son genre.

S’il a fait bénéficier la Mongolie de son expertise, il considère qu’il a retiré tout autant de son affectation: un travail gratifiant, de nouveaux amis – et en particulier une toute nouvelle passion, celle des chevaux.

Starting from scratch – The challenge of transition

Resumen en Español

UNV News #78 November 97

Después de siete años de transición hacia una economía de mercado, Mongolia goza hoy de un crecimiento económico, político y de liberación social, con una población de 2.3 millones de habitantes esparcidos sobre un extenso territorio ubicado entre Rusia y China. Su sistema de comunicación no es del todo satisfactorio, ya que la antigua red usada durante el comunismo no fue reemplazada completamente por el sector privado, sin embargo poco a poco el gobierno así como el sector privado comienzan a percatarse de la repercusión. En colaboración con el gobierno en Mongolia, el PNUD inició su trabajo de investigación sobre el desarrollo humano y realizó su primer informe sobre Mongolia que fue presentado el 5 de septiembre de este año.

El grupo que tuvo que realizar el informe fue encabezado por el especialista británico en asuntos sobre la pobreza y voluntario de NU, Shahin Yaqub. Actualmente hay 24 voluntarios internacionales y 26 nacionales, su labor juega un rol importante en la realización de los proyectos del PNUD. Para la realización del informe, Shahin tuvo la colaboración de otros tres VNUS, Mustafa Eric, Jerry van Mourik y David South, todos periodistas. El informe es un compendio de información esencial y actual sobre el estado de desarrollo humano en Mongolia. Para no parecer académico el informe se ilustró como una revista, con dibujos y pinturas infantiles. Mustafa no solo asistió en el diseño y la producción, también usó sus contactos dentro del ámbito periodístico local para hacer circular el documento dentro del país. Jerry por su parte se encargó de un aviso de televisión. Ya en su segunda edición el documento fue publicado en ambos idiomas, inglés y mongol, y es usado como libro de estudio entre los mongoles que quieren aprender el inglés. Para Shahin Mongolia es un lugar gratificante para trabajar. El siente que con su trabajo y sus esfuerzos pudo ayudarle a la población y además tuvo su gran satisfacción personal, no solo en su labor, también en el sentido humano. Aquí aprendió montar a caballo, lo cual será para siempre relacionado con Mongolia.

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Information Accelerates Crisis Recovery And Development | 1997

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The United Nations Information (UN Info Shop) was established by UNDP Mongolia in 1997 and was managed by the UNDP Mongolia Communications Office. Context is everything. At this time, Mongolia was still recovering from the chaotic and turbulent transition from Communism to free markets and democracy begun at the start of the 1990s, called by some “one of the biggest peacetime economic collapses ever (Mongolia’s Economic Reforms: Background, Content and Prospects, Richard Pomfret, University of Adelaide, 1994)”. There was a thirst for information: access to the Internet was still limited and access to mobile phones was just the preserve of the rich. As a legacy of the past, information, especially that about the outside world and the country’s true economic and social conditions, was restricted. During the years of Communism, even simple travel from one place to the next was strictly regulated. 

While today we can take it for granted that the Internet, and mobile and smart phones, deliver the world’s information in seconds, this just was not the case in the late 1990s in Mongolia. 

The UN Info Shop quickly became a crucial resource for students (many schools and universities were nearby) and it became a first stop for many wishing to access the Internet. It also substantially raised the profile of the UN in the country as the public could, for the first time, enter the UN building and discover what the UN was doing in the country. They could also visit the UNDP Mongolia Communications Office and meet its team. 

UN Info Shop cover
P. Dagmidmaa reads the Human Development Report Mongolia 1997 in the UN Info Shop.
UN Info Shop inside
Outside the UN Info Shop 1.0
The UNDP Mongolia Communications Office Team 1998 outside the UN Info Shop in the capital, Ulaanbaatar: David South, Bayasgalan and Bayarmaa.
Many initiatives grew from the talented and dynamic UNDP Mongolia Communications Office team. Here are links to some of them:

Ger: Mongolia’s First Web Magazine

Mongolian AIDS Bulletin

UN/UNDP Mongolia Development Web Portal

Case Study: UN + UNDP Mongolia | 1997-1999

© David South Consulting 2017
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Mongolian AIDS Bulletin

English Translation of the Magazine

Mongolian AIDS Bulletin
Issue No.1-December 1,1997

This is the English translation of the original Mongolian text

 

Contents:

 

About red stripe…

Red stripe is a symbol of solidarity with millions and millions of AIDS-infected, to take care after them and to join in a battle against of this disease.

Message from the Editor

“Information and education are the most powerful instruments to protect our planet from AIDS”. This quotation is found in the introduction of one of the international organisation against AIDS.

The Mongolian delegation participated in the 4th Conference on the AIDS issue in Manila on 24-29 October brought this idea back home. Mongolians admit a lack of adequate information. Therefore we have decided to publish this magazine to support efforts AIDS . Also it would be the bridge in the battle against AIDS between Mongolian Government and Mongolian people.

We would like to acknowledge the UNDP Resident Representative Mr. Douglas Gardner, Support Officer to Resident Co-ordinator, UNDP Mr. Jerry van Mourik and Mr. Nicholas Bates for the financial support and Mr. David South, Information Specialist UNDP for the initiative to produce this magazine and for their valuable professional assistance.

We also acknowledge Mr. Sh. Enkhbat, Secretary of the National AIDS Committee, Mr. H. Davaajav, Head of the department against AIDS/STD of the Infection Dicease Research Centre, Ms. Narantuya, correspondent of the newspaper “Mongol Messenger” for their encouragement and support.

Since this is our first issue, we recognise there will be mistakes. Your comments and valuable criticism are very welcome. We hope that with your assistance our magazine would have its own feature stories in the near future and we look forward receiving letters and photos from you.

We wish you good health and success in your work.

D. Altanchimeg

AIDS update news

According to the latest report from UNAIDS Programme a number of AIDS virus infected people has reached to more than 30 millions. Comparing with the number of infected people in 1996 – 22,6 millions it increases by 19 %.

It is said in a report that “this is much large number”.

CNN news reports that 1 out of 100 sexually active population of age from 16 to 49 is infected by AIDS virus. Only 1 out of 10 AIDS virus infected is aware of this fact.

National newsbulletin

Prime Minister called for parents to talk about AIDS hazard with children at least one time

On a World day of battling against AIDS the Prime Minister of Mongolia called for parents to talk about AIDS danger with children at least one time in order to prevent from the epidemic of this century – AIDS.

Prior to the World day of battling against AIDS a first session of the National Committee to battle against AIDS took place in Ulaanbaatar. Prime minister of Mongolia underlined in his speech on this session the importance given by Mongolia to the need to battle against this disease through a setting of National Committee headed by the Prime Minster in a full awareness of the hazard of the disease encountered by the world community:

“ International experts have identified that in nations facing socio-economic transitions there is a base for AIDS dissemination. On the other hand, although a great experience has bee accumulated by Mongolia in battling of sexually-transmitted diseases (STD,) in circumstances of this time it becomes vital to change the ways and methods of battling”.

The first session of the National Committee has advised to youth and health organizations to consider the establishing of mutual trust and understanding with the people of risk group (vulnerable group) who are vulnerable to this disease one of areas of battling activities, .as well as stressed the need for cooperation and participation of citizenry, institutions of all levels of the society.

Also the Prime Minister pointed out that since of its dissemination the “disease put on a stake the existence or collapse of a specific nation”, that’s why AIDS battling it is not a matter of health sector employees.

Prime Minster highly appreciated UN cooperation in provided support and participation to the Government of Mongolia in battling of AIDS and STD.

Government of Mongolia is to cooperate with UN in battling against AIDS

In June of 1997 the Government of Mongolia and UN organizations concluded a Memorandum of understanding to undertake joint activities in battling against AIDS, STD and Human Immuno Deficiency Virus (HIV).

At late of November the Project team was established to undertake this joint Programme. The team comprises of H. Enhjargal, National Coordinator, Nicholas Bates, Health Consultant and B. Oyun, Project staff member.

According to Enhjargal, the main objective of the Team is to coordinate health, education, media and NGOs in implementing of the Programme, to increase public participation in battling of AIDS, to change a wrong approach considering this matter a matter of few doctors and to move it to public-oriented.

AIDS battling National Committee established

By a Resolution of the Government of October 29, 1997 National Committee to battle against AIDS was set up headed by Prime Minister M. Enhsaihan; L. Zorig, Minister of Health and Social Welfare is a deputy Chair; Also Ministers of Finance, Justice, Education, Chief of Radio and TV as well as other key relevant officials.

Sub regional session took place in Ulaanbaatar

On November 11-13 1997, a consultative session of North Eastern Asian nations such as People’s Republic of China and Mongolia was taken place in Ulaanbaatar to discuss issues of AIDS. The session arranged jointly by UNDP Office Mongolia and Ministry of Health and Social Welfare discussed a project to prevent from battle against AIDS in North Eastern Asian nations. Within the frame of this UN-funded worth 400.000 US D for a duration of 3 year the activities to speed up research work against AIDS; to exchange the staff; to provide with publicity materials and to enroll into training media representatives in this area will be undertaken.

Mongolia first ever time participated in Regional Conference

Mongolian delegation first ever time participated in 4th Conference of Asia and Pacific Region nations on AIDS issue taken place in Manila, capital city of Philippines on October 25-29.

Although only one person is officially registered as AIDS virus infected in Mongolia, with regard to the following real reasons: less than 3% of total population was involved in AIDS analysis; number of STD infected people – as a basis for AIDS infection – in increasing every year; number of prostitutes and street children – as representatives of risk group (vulnerable group) is also increasing as well as a fact that in Russia and China – two actions where many Mongolians travel for business and private purposes – a number of infected people is growing the professionals are doubtful that only one person in Mongolia is infected by this virus. Therefore, it is understood that at such a crucial stage of encountered internal and external factors the participation of Mongolian delegation comprised from representatives of legislative body, ministry and NGO in Manila Conference is a sign that Mongolia is to undertake thorough battle activities against AIDS.

As soon as one is infected and the disease is spread out it requires a large amount of funds, therefore, in circumstances of Mongolia it is vital to conduct preventive training programs based on a concrete analysis and in accordance with Mongolian mentality; to undertake publicity activities about use of condom as one of most reliable way to prevent from AIDS – presented participants of the Conference.

On a press conference held as a follow-up activity of Manila Conference, Ms. B. Delgermaa, MP said:”This issue is new for Mongolian society. The Conference gave us an opportunity to learn from experience of ways of battling against AIDS and preventive measures taken by nations of Asia Pacific Region”.

Events on AIDS 

THE AIDS/STD TEST

By the order of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, AIDS/STD tests were carried out among people aged 15-40 from May to October, 1997. The test have not released as of 20 November, as aimags statistics have not arrived.

According to the results of the tests carried out in Ulaanbaatar, the 84% of all people targeted to be tested have been covered in the campaign. The Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Zorig reported that 63518 people have been tested in Ulaanbaatar and 1300 have STD. Bayanzurkh, Chingeltei district the city Ulaanbaatar have the highest number of people with STD. “ It is because a lot of young people live in those districts and the infrastructure is not well developed comparing with other districts.” Said Minister Zorig. The printed decree by the Ulaanbaatar city governor Narantsatsaralt gave the permission to doctors to use force if a person is not willing to be tested.

However the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare is denying the use of force for testing. Before 19980, the Ministry of Health and the local authorities co-operated with medical organisations used to conduct medical examinations and tests, including STD tests and covered 80% of the population.

40 MILLION CHILDREN ARE ORPHANS

Reuters news agency reports that according to the USAID estimation about 40 million children are orphaned since their parents have died of AIDS. Those children are under high risk to starve to death or to become sick or to become involved in child labour. It means the social welfare system has to be responsible for the care of those orphan children.

AIDS AND INFANT MORTALITY

The infant mortality rate is increasing in many countries because of AIDS. If the number of people infected by HIV does decrease the infant mortality rate, will triple over the next 15 years in countries such as Thailand and Zimbabwe.

DEMOGRAPHIC EFFECTS OF AIDS

The average life expectancy of the population of countries can be an important index of development. But in countries seriously affected by AIDS/HIV this index is changing dramatically. For instance, the life expectancy has decreased to 37 years in Uganda placing this country in last place. Scientists calculated that life expectancy will decreased to 25 years in some Asian and African countries by the year 2010. For example, the life expectancy of Zimbabwe is projected to decrease from 70 to 40 by 2010.

The sudden death of the princess Diana was a great loss for people infected by HIV/AIDS. How could we forget her humanistic attitude towards the people with HIV /AIDS. She shook their hands and held children suffering from AIDS and participated actively in the battle against AIDS.

In his condolence Dr. Roi Chan has said that Diana was an outstanding fighter against AIDS and against discrimination of those with HIV and AIDS. She was an active organiser of charity activities.

SOON WOMEN WOULD USE CONDOMS

Until recently condoms were only for men. According to numerous surveys carried out in many countries, it showed that woman are powerless in having safe sexual relations with men. The research work experimenting with condoms for women is in the final stage and the results are promising. Currently 10 countries are ordered the product and more than 30 countries are expressed their interest to purchase the product.

The price of the new condom would not be more than 1 $ promised the NUAIDS program.

Countries from Asia and Pacific region

AUSTRALIA

Australia has been one of the countries most affected by AIDS in the region. Since 1987 as a result of the Government action giving priority to people’s participation against AIDS, AIDS infection is now under control. The number of newly infected people is reducing.

CAMBODIA

AIDS infection is spreading rapidly in Cambodia and its future is not very rosy According to the official statistics data 600 people are AIDS virus infected . However it is estimated that this number is at least 100 thousand. The study carried out in 1997 shows that 40% of prostitutes, 6% of police and army people, 3% of pregnant women of are infected by AIDS virus.

CHINA

Xinhua news agency informed that the number of people registered as HIV infected and suffering from AIDS reached to 8277 in September, most were people are intervenous drug users. The joint UNAIDS program estimated that this year 400 thousand more people may have been infected by AIDS virus.

INDIA

AIDS is spreading dramatically in India. There are currently 5000 people living with AIDS according to official studies. Specialists think 2.5 million people are suspected or being infected by AIDS.

JAPAN

1,521 people are suffering from AIDS virus and 3,665 people are infected, by AIDS in Japan. Most of those unfortunate people got infected from imported donor blood and blood products.

SOUTH KOREA

AIDS is spread in Korea extremely slowly. The situation is changing. In June, 1997 679 people were HIV infected and 83 people are suffering from AIDS.

PHILIPPINES

There are 922 people infected with HIV and 312 people are experiencing AIDS symptoms. Most of those people are young people aged 20-49. However about 175000 more people are likely infected by AIDS.

What is UNAIDS ?

In December 1994 UNAIDS program was established as the United NAtion AIDS joint program UNICEF, UNDP, UNESCO, UNFPA, WHO and the World Bank. The main goal of this program to attract attention to the integration all efforts against AIDS. In order to fulfil its objective, a global policy against AIDS should be developed including support in planning, research studies and development amongst all nations.

Dr. Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS program, gave a speech at the Manila Conference. In his speech he underlined that, “ Asia has the highest density of population in the world. Therefore, countries from this region facing the danger of AIDS should wake up from their passiveness and accelerate the battle against AIDS.” He has identified the action plan of the UNAIDS program for this region in the following four steps:

  • 1. The countries and their leaders should realise the necessity of an effective battle against AIDS2. In order to make an effective effort against AIDS, the proven experiences and methods from different countries should be shared.3. To activate community initiatives in the battle against AIDS4. To involve all countries and nations spontaneously in the campaign against AIDS.

“ The battle against AIDS is progressing. Only our enemy is to do nothing” emphasised Mr. Peter in the Manila conference.

Children of the AIDS Era

Every year, on December 1 the world community has a tradition to undertake measures to be solidary in a battle against AIDS, to do publicity work about the harm and hazard of the disease, to offer moral and humanitarian aid to infected and ill people and their relatives. A slogan of battle of each year is different. 1997 year’s battle against AIDS has a slogan:”Children of AIDS Era”.

According to the latest data, 90% of AIDS-infected children under the 15 age are in developing countries. Only in 1996 more 400000 children under age of 15 were infected by AIDS virus.

Children are not only infected but they also experience the consequences of this disease. In many nations of the world children lose their parents and other members of the family given to this fatal disease. By the mid of the last year 9million children under the age 15 became orphans due to this disease. This figure can make one’s heart feel ill, but it is just a small part of the social grievance. In other words, there is a number ill mother or a father or sometimes both ill are waiting in anguish for a fatal end; at the same time so much pain and suffer the children carry. These children are very different from those who lose their parents because of other reasons. These children suffer seeing how their mother or father is getting worse and worse day by day with no way of treatment. In addition to it the cool attitude from other children make them suffer more.

Since AIDS transfers through STD, so that it is very often that children lose both parents. Leon, Ugandan woman says:”I have 11 orphan children. My older sister died of AIDS and left me 6 orphan children. The other 5 are my daughter’s children who also died of AIDS.

The below examples demonstrate the presence of poverty and violation of human rights toward children who lose parents due to AIDS. Since it is heard that one of family members is infected it is common that guests avoid visiting that family; classmates become cool. According to a survey conducted in Thailand for AIDS-infected children it it taboo to play together with other children at a play-yard. Also it was revealed fro from this survey that parents might be fired, the host lady stops visiting , thus the income of the family falls down encountering poverty. There is a number of such examples reported from different corners of the world. Fortunately, there is also a number of individuals and institutions who would like to help. UNICEF, Children Protection Foundation, some religious missions and other voluntary organizations. It is vital to help those families while AIDS-infected parents are alive. Because the children suffer from a very beginning day of parents’infection.

The World Conference held in 1996 “Against violent involvement of children in prostitution and pornography” reported that every year more than 1 million children become prostitutes. Besides, there is a number of hidden violations both moral and physical against them from their relatives or strange people. Today more than 100 million children are called “street children” living on an edge of knife. The thorough preventive program based on the specific needs and demands of street and drug-addicted children is really needed.

Let’s save children who live in Era of AIDS.

PERSONAL VIEW – SHALL WE WAIT FOR THE “SILENT” EPIDEMIC?

You might say we are a little bit exaggerating things. You might also ask “Is AIDS

really threatening Mongolia?” In some countries there is a belief that the Asian people have an immunity against AIDS and it’s not a secret that some Mongolians are also subject to this naive and false understanding. It would be really wonderful if God could have blessed us with such a rare destiny but…

Dramatically, today about 5.2 mln or 25 per cent of all 22.6 mln HIV positive live in the Asia-Pacific region. According to the officil data in Thailand where AIDS was regarded as an alien’s disease, the number of HIV-positive reached 700-800 thousand, in China 8200. So, what’s the situation in Mongolia? The Mongolians proudly say that there is only 1case of AIDS was officially registered in Mongolia. Some sceptically say that there should be more than 1 case… And I am among those who think that AIDS is enevitably threatening Mongolia and is always scared to think of a day when this silent epidemic might completely demolish the country’s 2 mln population.

The term “silent” epidemic was given to the disease because unlike other infectious diseases AIDS has no distinct symptoms and it takes many years before the disease gets exposed and the last ”resort” is always death. So, it is obvious that the HIV positive victims can infect others being completely unaware of their sickness.

Mongolia has all favourable conditions for AIDs to progress like the recent development of tourism, international trade, increase of drunkness, prositution, spread of sexual perversions, street kids, rape, etc. In addition, the increase of STDs gives solid grounds for AIDs development. We, the Mongolians, have very strange attitude towards destroying ourselves with our own hands. It is common to be hospitalized and have intravenous injections and even curse the doctors who didn’t prescribe intravenous injections. There are cases of getting hepatitis B through poor sterilized syringes because of the desire to be hospitalized while being almost healthy. How many patients, nurses do we have who are really scared of getting AIDs through injections? Do we have many doctors who really care of their job’s safety? They only think of curing the diseases and don’t think of getting infected. The HIV positives mostly suffer from pneumonia, TB and lung tumours. The number of TB cases in Mongolia has sharply increased during the last years. Does the medical personnel think about it? The questions like this arouse and scare me among other problems.

Hasn’t the time for us Mongolians come to make considerable efforts and bold steps to stay less exposed to this “silent” epidemic. To lay the AIDS burden on the shoulders of the Ministry of Health would certyainly result in unforgivable mistakes. The AIDS virus doesn’t distinguish between the rich and poor, women and men as well as doesn’t accept any bribes and corruption.

Any of us can become the next victim, so the whole society is not guaranted against it. Since there is no vaccination, no medicine against the virus everybody needs to foster their knowledge , learn more and choose safe means. In that case we can prevent ourselves against the deadly virus.

We need the sound voices of mass media representatives and prominant figures to join our battle against AIDs. Shall we, the Mongolians wait for the “silent” epidemic?

D. Altanchimeg

New generation – AIDS

Sexual Education as the most reliable means against AIDS

The first AIDS case was registered in 1981 the victim being an American homosexual and about 6.4 mln people died of AIDS since the first AIDS virus was found in 1983.

Until now no effective medicine was found and everyone infected with AIDS virus is doomed to die. According to the WHO data every day 8500 people get AIDS virus of whom 7500 are adults and 1000 are children.

However, the most reliable prevention is to remember that AIDS is not that dangerous if the person takes proper care of himself. It has become a worldwide trend to teach the younger generation about AIDS transmissons ways and give them sexual education. This would allow us not only protect our 20th century future but also make a feasible contribution to the coming future. At present, 50 per cent of the world and 70 per cent of Mongolia’s population are people under 25. In Mongolia the cases of STDs and prostitution in volve more younger people as compared to previous years and this contributes to the AIDS development and indicates the importance of promoting sexual education among young people especially at secondary schools.

Historically the Mongols never talk about sex to children although the time has gone when they used to learn about sex from their communal living in one dwelling together with their parents, grandparents and also watching the livestock habits.

The nationwide survey “Young generation knowledge, attitude and experiences towards reproductive health” conducted by Mongolian Ministry of Health and WHO covering 5000 young people in between the age of 13-20 showed that 53.6 per cent of them expressed the readiness to learn about family planning, STDs and AIDS from secondary schools, 23.9 from TV and mass media and 13.1 per cent from books and magazines.

At present, the information on sexual education given at secondary schools during biology classes didn’t prove to be fully informative and complete. According to Dr.Lhagwasuren, Head of the National Medical University, a special project should be elaborated focusing on how the sexual education should be taught and when and at what age and in what context.

Recently, the lecturer of the National Medical University B. Ayush and Gynecologist Bayarmaa founded the “Young generation – future” centre.The centre aims at giving basic education about reproductive health to 10-24 year olds, unexpected pregnancy, prevention of STDs and AIDS, as well as rendering qualified medical assistance. The consultancy hot-line “Trusty phone” is to start operating soon and will help to solve urgent problems of the youth. This is the beginning of active actions.

On the other hand, it is time for parents to give up the old fashioned understanding of “secret subject” and join efforts in teaching basic knowledge about sex. It should be also noted that in reality the parents tend to think that teaching sexual education is the duty of school teachers, so the parents also need a special training considering this subject. In other words, the parents- chidlren-school triangle is very important to ensure the success of developing sexual education to children.

It is certain that we won’t solve today’s problems by only introducting sexual education at secondary schools. There are many street kids missing the schools and and this number is increasing, the kids have no supervision and enter the sexual life without any knowledge.

The survey held by the Ministry of Health and UN Human Fund showed the increasing number of street teenagers (girsl) who get involved in sexual relations at the very early age. According to the results out of 92 street teenagers (girls) 71 or 77 per cent already started sexual life and 50.4 per cent of them were raped. The average age is 14. The experts emphasized that these figures are higher as compared to other kids who have homes. Recently, some Asian countries with the same problem of street kids have been successfully passing the sexual education through the so called “leaders” of the groups.

The doctors involved in the survey also noted that when the sreet kids (Ulaanbaatar) get STDs they inject each other with penicillinum instead of going to hospitals.

Another thing that should be considered is that the sexual education should be taught in line with the kids’ interests and habits. For example, some methods like enrolling famous pop singers, rock bands , basketball stars or using the most popular FM channells in STDs and AIDS pevention campaigns could have more effect on city kids while in countryside the prominent young wrestlers with national titles could participate in these campaigns and make them more fruitful.

D. Narantuya

MAY I BE THE FIRST AND LAST AIDS VICTIM IN MONGOLIA

The only Mongolian with HIV positive for the first time spoke to mass media addressing the teenagers and youth. This decision was motivated by his desire to warn the Mongolian youth of the danger of AIDS widely spreading all over the world and Asian countries and toprotest against some false information related to him and published in some papers. In its October issue one of the papers published an “interview” with him which read that the Mongolian HIV positive had sexual relations with 6 partners and was going to get married soon. However, it was found out that the journalist who rote it never met the HIV positive. Dr. Davaajav, head of the National STD and AIDS Centre, acted as a liason between the press and HIV positive and stressed that his patient had never had sexual relations with anybody since he knew he was HIV positive. He also emphasized that his patient expressed his will to be the first and the last AIDS victim in Mongolia.

The interview was given to Ardyn Erkh paper, the most popular national daily distributed both in urban and rural areas. According to Dr. Davaajav the HIV positive’s health state is satisfactory and the AIDS symptoms have not shown up. “Of course he needs a moral and human support as he feels really down” says Dr. Davaajav. Right now, the HIV positive has no job and has no place of his own.

THREE REASONS WHY THE YOUTH IS EXPOSED TO AIDS

Dr. John Chittick who has been working on AIDS projects for the last 10 years and conducted “AIDS, Teenagers and the Youth” survey, founded a Teen AIDS-PeerCorps charity fund. Dr. Chittick thinks that the campaigns on AIDS prevention among the teenagers are really insufficient and the governments neglect this problem. According to him, there are 3 reasons why the youth has wrong understanding about AIDS regarding it as an adults’ disease. The reasons are as the following:

  • They don’t realize AIDS as a real threat The youth and teenagers have no opportunity to see HIV positives among themselves because AIDS virus appears after 10 years the person gets infected.
  • They don’t receive enough information on AIDS.The adults, especially in Asian countries don’t talk much about AIDS and sex. They always say “Don’t” but rarely explain why it is prohibited. And the youth actually disregards these don’ts.
  • They don’t talk about AIDS among themselves. Acording to Dr. John Chittick’s studies the young people in Asian countries don’t talk much about sex and AIDS. The situation is a little bit better in European countries. If you are interested in Dr. John Chittick’s activities on staging AIDS preventive campaigns please refer to his e-mail or write a letter.
  • http://www. Teenaids-peercorps.com
    e-mail: chittick@tiac.net43 Charles St, Boston, MA 02144 USAFax: (617) 742-3499

Note: The national magazine on AIDS is available on Internet at information centres sponsored by UNDP. These centeres function in Ulaanbaatar, Tuv and Uvurhangai aimags.

Means of prevention

To stay with one sexual partner is one of the most reliable and handy means.

  • Avoid using alcohol and drugs which lead to loosing self control.
  • Make sure you have a condomn just in case. Don’t get ashamed to use it and remember it is very important for the couples to learn how to use it properly.
  • Make it a habit to use only sterilized syringes.
  • Use only analyzed blood or blood substances in treatment.
  • It is not very difficult, isn’t it? Once you discuss these means within your family or with your friends, don’t forget that you protect not only yourself, but also help to protect others from AIDs virus.

Questions and answers about HIV-AIDS

Q: If I know (suspect) that somebody is HIV positive how should I react to it?

A: First thing is to remember that you won’t get infected through sharing dishes, toilet, shaking hands, kissing, etc. Make sure you keep the person’s secret and avoid gossip ping about it. Try to be human because AIDS is like TB or dysentery and nobody is guaranteed against it.

Q: How can a person know that he is not infected?

A: It is difficult to say if the person is infected or not just looking at him, so the couples should get AIDS tests after 5 months they had sexual relations. This will allow you to be more self confident.

Q: Can I get infection through kissing?

A: Normally, the AIDS virus was not found in saliva. So, there is less danger but in cases of bleeding or damaged cavity there is a possibility for the AIDS virus to penetrate.

Q: Is there any place in Mongolia to get consultancy on AIDS and STDs?

A: The consultancy service was founded in 1992 and is located in the western wing of the Infectious Diseases Hospital AIDs/STDs Centre, 1st floor, Room 104.

MAGAZINES

AIDS action

Quarterly magazine, comes out in English, France, Portugeuse and Spanish. Free distribution to developing countries.

Address:

HAIN No.9 Cabanatuan Road,
Philam Homes 1104, Quezon City
Philippinnes

http://www.hain.org./

Exchange

Comes out in English in Holland. Exchange of AIDS and STDs information.

Address:

Information, Library and Documentation Department
Royal Tropical Institute
P.O.Box 95001
1090 HA Amsterdam
The Netherlands

Free network

If you send your address and job description to the following address you will get updated information.

gender-aids@hists.inet.co.th

sea-aids@lists.inet.co.th

You can get the information on AIDS and related organizations by the following internet address.

http://www.afa.org.sg/

http://www.afao.org.au/

http://www.aidsorg.hk/

http://www.safersex.org/

EVENTS CALENDAR

Dec 1, 1997 World AIDS Day
Dec 3-6 1997 5th Meeting of America against AIDS. Lima, Peru.
Mid of December Report on UNICEF Guidelines and report on AIDS actions.
Dec 7-11, 1997 The World 10th Congress against AIDS, Africa.
Dec 21, 1997 Activities of elaborating guidelines for management of Chinese NGOs programmes against AIDS
If you need more information please refer to the Hong Kong AIDS Centre e-mail:
http://www.aids.org.hk/
Jan 12-15, 1998 The 2nd European Conference on AIDS surveys, results and methods.
Feb 1-5, 1998 The 5th Congress on retro virus, Chicago.
mailto:kiyoshhi@%20cripath.org
July 28-Aug 3, 1998 The World 12th Congress on AIDS, Geneva, Switzerland