From June 14 to June 16, 2016 a workshop was held in Chisinau, titled “Budget advocacy for Harm Reduction programs in the Republic of Moldova,” involving Moldavian non-governmental organisations and expert centres working in the fields of HIV prevention and harm reduction. The workshop aimed at enhancing budget advocacy knowledge and skills in Moldova’s civil society. At this workshop participants were introduced to the concept of social accountability in the public sector and learned how non-governmental organisations can be involved in budget processes.
Over these past two years, health care has been funded through Moldova’s National Health Insurance Company, which also provides funding to two harm reduction projects (since 2014). A project was announced to provide state budget funding to non-governmental organisations implementing harm reduction programs, however none of those NGOs have actually received funding from the government so far. Most NGOs entirely depend on the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in their programming needs. In the meantime, the Global Fund is going to reduce its presence in Eastern European countries, including Moldova.
In this regard, Moldova’s civil society needs budget advocacy skills to be able to urge bolder government actions to secure funding for harm reduction programs, and to make sure there is an established procedure to allocate funds for harm reduction from domestic sources before the international aid funding expires.
NGOs should cooperate with knowledge hubs to use their expertise on the budget cycle, to receive information and to have a better understanding of opportunities to take part in the national discussion and decision-making processes on state budget allocations, and to advocate successfully for funding for harm reduction services.
Lilia Gantya, Deputy Head of Budget, Finance and Insurance Management Department, Moldova’s Ministry of Health, told workshop participants about the national budget for health structure. Lucia Pyrcyne, National HIV Programme Coordinator, followed with an overview of details pertaining to funding HIV-related services, including harm reduction.
Workshop participants developed an advocacy action plan to ensure the sustainability of harm reduction programmes in the Republic of Moldova.
The workshop was facilitated by Maxim Demchenko and Yury Nestula from the charitable organization Light of Hope (Poltava, Ukraine), who have proven expertise in budget advocacy for health care in Ukraine.
The workshop involved a number of non-governmental organisations, including Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (Lithuania), the Union for HIV/AIDS Prevention and Harm Reduction in Moldova (UORN), initiative groups Together (Chisinau) and Standing Point (Tiraspol), as well as Soros Foundation–Moldova, Positive Initiative foundation and experts from two knowledge centres, Expert-Grup Independent Think-Tank and Transparency International in Moldova, which deal with the state budget monitoring and analysis.
The workshop was co-organized by the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network and the Union for HIV/AIDS Prevention and Harm Reduction in Moldova (UORN).
This workshop, held under the regional program “Harm Reduction Works — Fund It!” with support from the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, has launched a series of training workshops on budget advocacy to be held within this project. In the second half of 2016, more workshops will take place in Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan.
“We are analysts, and our business is calculating numbers. And you (community organisations), you are the stars, and your task is reaching policy makers and making them feel what those numbers actually mean and how they can hurt,” said Tatiana Savva, Expert-Grup economist.