“Money Can Buy Health If You Budget For It”: key results of the project

In January 2016 consortium of three regional networks’ three year project was supported by Robert Carr civil society Networks Fund (RCNF) to build the capacity of community-based organizations of key populations, foster exchange and partnership between different ISP groups in budget advocacy and HIV resource accountability, help them advocate for national and municipal budgets resources to be allocated to continuum of HIV care for all ISP in EECA. During project duration joint advocacy activities and community strengthening to expand funding for and accessibility of services for people who use drugs (PWUD), men who have sex with men and all trans* people (MSM and TG) and people living with HIV (PLHIV) along the continuum of HIV care in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) region were held on regional and national level.

Main achievements on regional level

EHRA worked on the budget advocacy capacities development, ECUO has been instrumental in developing advocacy plans for the communities and delivering guidance on PR and communication tools. ECOM on the other hand has launched its issue based inter-sectoral platform – Regional Platform on Policy Reform (RPPR), which consists of regional development partners and regional networks, national actors from state and civil society. This enables communities to come up with the joint strategy on how to find new and effective approaches to MSM and trans people health in EECA region.  We strive to achieve situation in which all members bring in unique expertise and input.

The Regional Community Action Plan was developed with leadership from ECUO based on research and consultation with community representatives, regional networks and other stakeholders and serves as the basis for joint planning and fundraising.

In April 2017 EHRN organized the budget advocacy training in Kyrgyzstan for 28 participants from regional and national consortiums. As a result 28 community members were trained and then practically involved in advocacy on regional and national level.

The tool for community led assessment of access and quality of services was developed in close cooperation with national consortiums and then approbated by them in the first year of the project.  Gaps in access to services identified by the communities, were then addressed in their advocacy work. It is planned to collect and try to unify all the existing methodologies of community led assessments during the Reginal methodological expert workshop in October, 2018.

Budget advocasy guide for community activists (BA guide short) developed by EHRA on the basis of conducted regional and national trainings for different communities is a great tool to share gained experience with members of regional networks and community leaders in EECA.

Our work together as a consortium made clear the necessity and all of the potential benefits of consortiums as a model for effective national and regional advocacy. That is why the specific training was organised and methodological guidelines (“We are different but act together”) were developed to summarize best approaches and to provide communities with practical recommendations on how to build effective consortiums working in budget advocacy.

Together with 6 other regional networks consortium members launched joint “Chase the virus, not people!” campaign at AIDS 2018 conference. EHRA, ECOM along with ECUO were the coordinating parties of the campaign. The aim of the campaign is to draw attention to the problems of key population groups, against the backdrop of the catastrophic situation with the HIV/AIDS epidemic in EECA for comprehensive support of the region by the world community. Increase the priority of actions to overcome the discrimination and stigmatization of vulnerable and communities – as a key condition for an effective response to the HIV epidemic in EECA countries.

National level

While the perfect model and mode for transition from donor to domestic funding is yet to be discovered, there have been decisive steps taken in a number of countries to improve the situation. We work with our community organizations within each consortium individually and try to look at the situation in relation to all ISPs in the country at large. This enables building a win-win partnerships, raising stronger voice for change, gives consortia more influence on decision making level, including on funding of ISP services.

In June, 2016 members of the PUD, PLWH, MSM and transgender communities from Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Estonia gathered together at the training “Budget advocacy and assessment of investments and priorities related to HIV prevention, diagnostics, treatment and care”, learned about the project and agreed on joint actions to collect and analyze investments and priorities related to HIV services.

In 2016 MSM, PLHIV and PWID communities from Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Estonia conducted community led monitoring of HIV related survices, presented the results to relevant stakeholders and formulate strategic plans of national consortiums based on it.

Armenian consortium prepared the “Armenian civil society opinion on government readiness for transition to state funding”. Transition processes in the country have been advancing recently and consortium members are involved in them.

In Kyrgyzstan PLHIV, LGBT and PWUD community organizations are widely represented in the platforms that have their say on national HIV response. They are part of discussion during planning national HIV program which include transitional and reforming state procurement mechanism for ARVs.

As the result of the community mobilization, it was possible to recruit a group of new activists for the PWUD community in the North-East of Estonia. The core group of PWUD activists gained access to the resources of community assessment and mobilization in the summer of 2016. By the end of 2016, it was possible to register an NGO based on the initiative group. 
Estonian consortium has been actively engaged with National Institute of Health Development to work on more community based and low threshold programs for ISPs. Technical assistance provided by ECUO helped national consortium develop National Advocacy Plan of the Estonian communities.