The issue of country engagement in budget advocacy planning and effective transition to domestic funding of harm reduction services has become the key topic at the Regional Consortium Meeting, which took place end of February in Batumi, Georgia.
More than 90 delegates came to take part in the event, which made it the biggest get together of the two regional programs: “Partnership for Equitable Access to the HIV Care Continuum in the EECA Region” and the Regional Program "Harm Reduction Works - Fund it!"
“It is for the first time ever that I see two regional programs working so closely together. This is how it should be in regional advocacy projects. Our strategy on transition and sustainability is one of the key tasks of the Global Fund in the region. The Global Fund is indeed leaving –it has already cut their funding in the EECA region by 50 %. That´s why this kind of work and this kind of leadership is most important and this is exactly what should be happening in the region. The communities should waste no time and join in to be pushing for domestic funds from local budgets”, — says the guest of the regional workshop Tsovinar Sakanyan, representative of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.
The participants from Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and presented their consortiums, which had been selected to implement the project “Partnership for Equitable Access to the HIV Care Continuum in the EECA Region” and shared their practices in advocacy for effective HIV care continuum. Many of them have already gained lots of such experience in their countries and made good progress in many aspects of care provided to key populations, harm reduction services among them. The country consortium representatives have also voiced their goals and shared their expectations about the project. For instance, Kazakhstan sees it as their priority to resolve the legal situation with transgender populations, calling for revision of the constitutional clauses, Code on Family and other laws and regulations on the rights of people with unorthodox sexual orientation. Kyrgyzstan declared that their long-term goal is to secure the state funding of HIV care. However, all the delegates without exception have expressed their hopes to make the project a success and united around their common goal to ensure access to high quality HIV care continuum for key populations in their countries. The partners from the Central Asia Union of People living with HIV (ECUO) held a session on the consortium working plans to ensure their conformity with the regional program priorities. The session aimed to inform the participants on the project goals and targets on both country and regional levels. The consortiums used the information to continue working on their plans and key activities for 2017 – 2018 with full support from the ECUO and EHRN leading teams.
The participants got trained in the skills of conflict management, were introduced to the management mechanisms inside consortiums and the basic principles of program and financial management in line with the Global Fund policies and main requirements to project reporting.
The orientation meeting of the country consortiums has demonstrated that both the organizers and participants should consider it their key priorities to get aquainted with management and reporting principles, learn how to compile detailed working plans and agree on them, as well as how to understand and deal with potential risks and challenges. Therefore, the next meeting of all consortiums is planned to be held in the second half of 2017. The participants will present the interim results of the project implementation and discuss their plans for 2018.