In the light of the new approaches of the Global Fund to grant allocation and funding in Eastern Europe and Central Asia regions (EECA) the strengthening of civil society and communities as well as gender and human rights is afforded increased prominence.
An active role of civil society as well as the engagement of its representatives into the country dialogues to develop a plan for sustainable funding of harm reduction services is seen as crucial for equitable access of key populations to necessary services and protection of their human rights in the whole region.
Bearing all that in mind, an annual coordination meeting of the Eastern Europe, Central Asia Regional Communication and Coordination Platform (EECA RP) is held in Kiev on 1–2 March 2017 as part of the TB/HIV response.
At present the following organizations are working together to protect the rights of key populations in the framework of this project: East Europe and Central Asia Union of People living with HIV - ECUO, Eurasian Coalition on Men’s Health - ECOM, Sex-Workers Advocacy Network - SWAN, Eurasian Network of PUDs - ENPUD, TB Europe Coalition – TBEC and Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN).
“For EHRN as one of the key providers of technical assistance in the region it is strategically important to be supporting ENPUD. In the last one and a half years we have seen concrete results. For example, in Belarus and the Ukraine for the first time ever direct representatives of PUDs were nominated as members of the Country Coordination Mechanisms. The ENPUD members are much more likely to be involved in the policy development and decision making processes related to the Global Fund and funding TB and HIV programs in the region”, – says Igor Gordon, Head of Membership and Community Strengthening Team of EHRN.
The coordination meeting participants see it as their primary goal to engage civil society and key populations in the EECA region into the dialogue, as well as to provide them with key information necessary for such involvement and coordinate technical assistance in the countries in transition to domestic funding.
The meeting participants plan to analyze the work already done by the Regional Platform to engage civil society, communities and key populations into the national TB/HIV response. They will also look at the goal and targets presented by the Community, Rights, Gender (CRG) Strategic Initiative for 2017 – 2019 and discuss the policies of future grants and Global Fund Programme of technical assistance in the issues of communities, rights and gender. This program will provide technical assistance to national civic organizations in many different areas, most importantly, to help implement a new funding model by participation in the country dialogue and conceptual notes development.
“The very idea to have a platform where all vulnerable populations and regional networks could work together is crucial for us at the EHRN. After one year of collaboration we have known each other better and we are learning to cooperate. Our collective efforts have already resulted in the communities` better understanding of the GF workings and they are much more involved into the decision making processes. At our meeting here we will decide how we can help community leaders to become effective advocates for domestic funding of the programs, human rights and gender equality in response to the HIV and TB epidemics,” – says Anna Dovbakh, Acting Executive Director of EHRN.