Latsin Alijev: We need to exceed the narrow understanding of eventual benefits and prioritize the common interest

Latsin Alijev, leader of the #PARTNERSHIP consortium of NGOs in Estonia, shared his expectations from the upcoming regional forum “PARTNERSHIP in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic: EECA experience and achievements”, which will start in Kyiv already on October 22:

“I want the event to succeed! And I understand that the project is closing… But the most important thing has already been achieved – strong teams have been formed in different EECA countries! I want to believe that, ideally, they will develop or have already grown into well-organized communities. Many regional projects are being implemented in our region, but summarizing my personal participation in the Partnership, I think that this was not just a project for the sake of the project – our actions and activities were profound and meaningful, we did it for the sake of people, for the sake of a dignified attitude to oneself!

From the very beginning, we identified two fundamental levels of breakthrough in the Estonian response to the epidemic. We have already achieved our first objective, that is, to qualitatively change public attitude for the better: the country now has a Community Consortium in which we should live in dignity and safety. The second goal is the direct involvement of the state in the role of key populations, in many ways it is still underway, as a lot of further efforts has still to be taken, but the groundwork has already been made. I do not expect major changes and investments so far, but even if government becomes interested at least in a couple of projects implemented by the Consortium, it will already be a good sign.

As a rule, we are eager to inform about the Estonian results so that the conference participants will get a clear idea of ​​our actions and focus on them during the event. During almost two years that I have been presiding over the Estonian Community Consortium, I have attended many local, national and regional meetings where the issue of changing the situation in our field was fundamental, but now I want to emphasize that we conveyed our common consolidated opinion by repeatedly speaking up and communicating our “Estonian Voice” to leaders and representatives of various areas, explaining the need for urgent actions at the state level!

Our moral duty is to act jointly with all the affected and most vulnerable populations, those who are not guilty for changing the situation with HIV but who are the first to be affected and who suffer the most.

The Estonian Consortium has set itself the principal goal to change situation with treatment as a top priority, because neither of the stakeholders (people, organization, state, countries, networks) is able to cope with this problem on their own. HIV is not confined to the country or place; a poor situation with access to treatment at some location exacerbates the situation elsewhere. Deterioration of the situation threatens people’s lives and imminently affects livelihoods in any part of EECA. This is a threat to the health, sustainability and safety of people. Only TOGETHER we can take consolidated actions to solve this essentially global problem and curb the epidemic in the region!

It is all very simple – we need solidarity and only then sustainable changes will occur. But we need real power in this matter, perhaps the time has come to take it! The sooner we take action, the greater the benefits are for all: increased stability and security in the issue of HIV and all socially dangerous diseases, lowering the epidemic growth rate, increasing resilience of OUR communities, improving the quality of life of PLWH, improving the health of people in EECA countries.

I believe that four key elements are crucial to success of the conference: consistency, flexibility, solidarity and trust.

First, consistency. In Kyiv we have to formulate a long-term strategy with the aim of sustaining the activities of the EECA Consortiums of Communities, therefore, a resolution or agreement is needed; we should make appeals to key partners, explaining that our actions are inevitable and useful, moreover, they are already being implemented.

Second, the agreement to be adopted should have a space for flexibility in order to avoid the need for continuous renegotiation. It should take into account changes in the HIV situation and ensure a balance between the leading role of our Communities, as well as the growing influence of regional Networks.

Third, this agreement must affirm the principle of solidarity, including in the form of financing and granting rights to developing communities. All partners must fulfill their commitments to provide comprehensive support!

Fourth, such an agreement should provide for effective responses to the increasingly devastating phenomena inherent to the epidemic. It should include provisions for the evaluation and improvement of national action plans.

At the Kyiv Conference it is also necessary to develop transparent and efficient mechanisms. If a full-fledged agreement is adopted in Kyiv, this will be crucial to improving the lives of the present and the future generations of people. It will allow us to improve people’s health! It will accelerate the process of achieving all goals.

I am coming forth with a simple idea – the success of Kyiv conference depends on you. It is time to show common sense, make mutually beneficial decisions and reach a consensus. It is necessary to go beyond the narrow individual perceptions of what is right and put the common interest at the forefront. Our communities rely on us to have the wisdom and courage to take advantage of this historic moment”.

Let’s remind that on October 22-24, in Kyiv, a forum will be held on the results of the Regional Program “Partnership for Equal Access to the Continuum of HIV Services for Everyone Who Needs Them in the EECA Region”. The forum will present the experience of ten country consortia of non-governmental organizations advocating the right to health of representatives of key groups affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Estonia. This is the first regional-level partnership program aimed at providing an effective response to the challenges of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in EECA countries, supported by the Global Fund and coordinated by the East Europe and Central Asia Union of People Living with HIV (ECUO) in 2016-2018.