The rapid growth of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the EECA countries, along with the shrinking donor funding and, at the same time, continuous advocacy for access to treatment by representatives of key communities serves as an incentive for seeking new sources of sustainable support for the countries of the region. And first of all it’s the governments which are expected to contribute to sustainability.
To ensure sustainable implementation of services for the prevention, treatment, care and support of PLWH in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, ECUO with the support of the Global Fund and the UNAIDS technical assistance is implementing a three-year program “Partnership for Equal Access to the Continuum of HIV Services for Everyone Who Needs It, in the EECA Region”. Initially the EECA program focused on 4 countries (Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Estonia). Already in 2017 the geography of the program was extended to another 3 countries (Azerbaijan, the Russian Federation and Uzbekistan), and in early 2018 there appeared news on expanding the support to KAP consortiums in 4 more countries.
“Ensuring sustainable access to prevention, treatment, care and support for all people who need it in EECA countries is a priority for the ECUO against the backdrop of the HIV epidemic escalation in the countries of our region. In December, we reviewed the interim outcomes of the regional PARTNERSHIP program and saw how much the consortium teams had already achieved: they formed effective interaction and sustainable partnership not only within the NGO consortium, they built an even more promising dialogue with the state and had already achieved a number of positive changes for the KAPs. I am sure that the next year of cooperation will be much more prolific.
I am sincerely glad that the ECUO contributed to strengthening the interaction and capacity development of the country consortiums, whose strategic advocacy daily influences the government decision-making in favor of the people.
Having seen the achievements of the established partnerships (consortiums), we decided to revise the work plan of the regional PARTNERSHIP program for the third year to involve and support new country teams from 4 more EECA countries. This decision has proved to be right already at the stage of application processing. These days we are intensively engaged in coordination of work, we sign contracts, exchange experience and tell the consortium teams about the opportunities for comprehensive technical support that will be provided to them. Indeed, the main task in this program for our team in the ECUO Secretariat is to give partners in the countries more opportunities to implement the program. And this is not only funding, but also expert assistance: M&E, joint advocacy, communication support”, said Andrei Kosinov, Program Manager of the ECUO regional PARTNERSHIP program.
On 12-13 March the ECUO holds a regional meeting in Kyiv for representatives of new consortia from Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Tajikistan.
The purpose of the meeting is to coordinate advocacy efforts and facilitate networking among all participants of the program; coordinate work plans; provide new participants of the regional PARTNERSHIP program with information on tasks, requirements for programmatic and financial management, monitoring and evaluation, program reporting; discuss NGOs interaction within the consortium; get familiar with the achievements and experience of consortia from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Estonia; consider successful scenarios for building partnerships within consortia; obtain information on the possibilities of receiving technical assistance from members of the regional expert group (REG) and the ECUO Secretariat specialists.
It should be noted that within the framework of the implementation of the regional PARTNERSHIP program, a regional EECA action plan was developed by joint efforts of representatives of regional networks and KAP communities. The document is a unique joint coordinated response of regional networks to the catastrophic situation in the EECA region with access to the continuum of HIV services for PLWH; PWID; sex workers; MSM; transgender people; persons without identity documents and other migrants; prisoners and PLWH affected by TB.
The cooperation of regional networks was initiated by ECUO and in 2015 a memorandum of cooperation was signed in Armenia, which became possible with the technical assistance and meaningful involvement of the UNAIDS Regional Office in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and the UNFPA, whose teams understood back then, how promising is such cooperation format for effective response to the challenges of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the EECA region.
According to the latest UNAIDS report “Ending AIDS: progress towards the 90–90–90 targets”, the number of newly registered HIV cases and AIDS-related deaths in the EECA region is increasing. According to UNAIDS/WHO/EuroCDC, as of 2016, 190,000 [160,000-220,000] people living with HIV were newly identified in the region, the total number of new HIV infections increased by 60% compared to 2010, while scaling up treatment has reduced the annual HIV incidence globally by 16% compared to 2010. Access to treatment in the EECA region is one of the poorest in the world, being as low as is 28%. AIDS-related mortality reported in the EECA region increased by 38%, while worldwide AIDS mortality has almost halved (48%).