Transition from Global Fund support to national funding: role, opportunities and priorities for civil society in Albania

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The workshop “Transition from Global Fund support of HIV and TB programs to national funding: role, opportunities and priorities for civil society in Albania” took place in Tirana, the capital city of Albania, on 23 – 24 of October and gathered 29 participants including civil society representatives, CCM members, representatives of the Global Fund CRG Team and CCM Hub (online), experts from neighbouring countries and representatives of the governmental structures.

Albanian HIV and TB components became ineligible for regular funding after the 2014–2016 allocations were announced and therefore Albania became eligible to receive transition funding. It will receive a three-year transition grant within the 2017-2019 allocation period. This transition grant is expected to start in January 2020 and will be a significantly lower level of investment—about one third the value of current Global Fund grants. The implementation of the current Global Fund HIV and TB grant is ending in December 2019.

According to the estimated annual needs to sustain HIV and TB responses prior to submitting the transition grant request, Albania’s needs approximately US $3 million to address its two epidemics effectively. Hence US $9 million is required over 2020-2022, the three-year period of the transition grant. With an allocation of just under US $6 million within the current HIV and TB grants, roughly 60% of the funding need is currently being met. Without significant increases in domestic funding, the funding gap is expected to grow in the coming years. Moreover, the services for key affected populations (KAPs) are largely implemented by civil society. Their scale, quality and delivery models are to be improved under the new transition grant. So far, these services have not been funded from domestic resources, though there is an office for civil society and general funding for civil society groups in the country. The national strategies on HIV and TB are expiring in 2019. The Global Fund, under its pilot ‘CCM Evolution Project,’ supports Albania’s HIV and TB governance reforms although with no clear outcome so far.

Community and civil society advocacy is critical at this conjunction of processes to ensure sustainability of the response. But at the same time the transition Funding Request 2020- 2022 poses a direct challenge to the services provided by NGOs being sub-recipients of the Global Fund grant. It is expected that starting from 2020 the number of NGOs supported by Global Fund will become twice lower, decreasing from 12 to 5. It is not clear what happens with the activities implemented by those 7 NGOs left behind and which exactly NGOs this will be.

Taking this context into account, the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) in coordination with the Global Fund Secretariat, decided to organize a workshop for civil society and community representatives in Albania. The workshop aimed to help improve the understanding of local civil society representatives involved in the country’s HIV and TB responses, of the Global Fund transition-related processes currently taking place in country and also to stimulate ideas, plans and opportunities for their meaningful engagement into such processes to ensure the sustainability of HIV and TB response among key affected populations in Albania.

The participants first heard the information about the steps being taken by the government to prepare for transition of HIV/TB prevention interventions from the Global Fund’s support and also about the transition-related risks for HIV response and civil society services. Representatives of the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Health updated the participants on the work being done to secure funding and social contracting from national and local authorities including on the public budget cycles, possibilities to advocate and influence the budget at central and local level. Guest activists from North Macedonia and Montenegro shared their lessons learnt from the transition experiences of their countries with regard to budget advocacy efforts being taken by civil society in these countries to sustain HIV response among KAPs. The representative of the Agency for Support of Civil Society informed the participants about the opportunities of funding available for NGOs, including those related to public health. On the second day of the event the participants also had the opportunity to discuss and plan the advocacy steps need to be taken by civil society in nearest future to ensure the sustainability of services for KAPs as well as to discuss their Global Fund related TA needs and plan the possible content of the potential requests for the support within the Global Fund CRG TA Program.

DPNSEE President Vlatko Dekov presenting lessons learnt from North Macedonia

Genci Muçollari, Executive Director at DPNSEE member organisation Aksion Plus who participated in the workshop, thinks that “It was an interesting workshop though we were expecting high level presentation from the GF and the Ministry of Health and Social Protection (MHSP). World Health Organisation representatives were attending, other NGOs as well. Above all discussions among partners, the role of the MHSP and the Albanian government is very important to ensure a gradual transition from Global Fund to state funds through social contracting and other ways of contribution both in money and in kind to programs and activities covered before by GF. The workshop organizers presented some of the funding opportunities from other regional donors and call for proposals in order to support activities after the GF.

The event was organized by the Regional Platform for Communication and Coordination for the EECA Region, hosted by Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA).

Transition of TB program in Romania

Source: Regional Civil Society and Community Support, Coordination and Communication Platform – EECA

35 participants including civil society representatives, CCM members, Global Fund Portfolio Manager, experts from neighbouring countries and representatives of the governmental structures gathered in Bucharest on 13 – 14 of June at a workshop “Transition from the Global Fund support of TB program to national funding: understanding the role, opportunities and priorities for civil society in Romania” to discuss what they can do for a greater sustainability of the country’s responses to the TB and HIV epidemics.

Based on the Global Fund Board’s decision in November 2016 on the allocation of resources for the 2017-2019 allocation period, Romania has been allocated € 4,052,972 for tuberculosis and building resilient and sustainable systems for health. The implementation of this new TB grant in Romania formally started in March 2019 and it is planned to finish its implementation in March 2021. This grant is being considered as the last TB grant for the country to support the transition processes. Although the new Global Fund 2019 Eligibility List does mention Romania as being eligible for TB funding again, yet, the eligibility does not guarantee an allocation, and it is not clear if Romania will be allocated any further funding to support the TB response in 2020 – 2022.

Although Romania is ineligible to receive Global Fund funding for HIV response since 2010 when its last Global Fund HIV grant came to an end, the current “transition grant”, as well as all previous TB grants to Romania, includes a significant component on HIV prevention among key affected populations (KPs). Therefore, civil society mobilization for joint advocacy to ensure the domestic funding of HIV prevention activities among KPs is essential.

At the same time, according to the Global Fund’s Eligibility List 2019 Romania may be eligible for an allocation for HIV/AIDS for non-governmental or civil society organizations if the country demonstrates the barriers to providing funding for interventions for key populations, as supported by the country’s epidemiology. The Global Fund Secretariat will assess whether the criteria have been met at the time of determining allocations for the 2020-2022 allocation period. The decision on the countries‘ allocations within the next 2020-2022 allocation period to be made by the Global Fund Board in November 2019.

Youth of SEE on YODA Workshops 2018

Within Youth Organisations for Drug Action in Europe, the network of European organisations that have a specific scope of activities devoted to young people at risk, youth representatives from DPNSEE member organisations Aksion Plus, HOPS, Juventas and Re Generation spent two weeks  in Eastern Europe, cities of Warsaw and Kiev, on a study visit within the capacity building workshops. On this set of workshops, YODA network members from 8 European countries participated, those that work on the ground offering harm reduction and health services to those who need it, often the most marginalised and stigmatised youth in our societies.

The study visit consisted of different classroom workshops, including the variety of site visits, all covering topics such as cross-substance use, LGBT health, drug checking, problematic use and harm reduction related to young people.

Džoli Ulićević from our member organisation Juventas said for the YODA blog that the opportunity to attend YODA training in Warsaw was very valuable to him, especially in the terms of getting insight into the practical part of work of PREKURSOR Drop in Centre and Foundation for Social Education mobile unit (Warsaw Mobile Units, video).  He said also that the exchange of experience and knowledge with more experienced activists in harm reduction programs improved his skills in harm reduction and provided him with many ideas which can be implemented in Montenegro regarding harm reduction for young people using drugs, specially within some vulnerable groups, such as young LGBTIQ people, sex workers or people who are members of ethnic minorities.

The site visits in Warsaw included also ES-SIN after party project and discussion on harm reduction in young people using drugs problematically), FES mobile HIV/AIDS/HEP C/STI testing point.

In Kiev the group visited Club Eney, self-help group and drop-in centre, LGBT community, testing centre and Convictus centre.

 

Vladana Stepanović, former DPNSEE volunteer and Re Generation member, said that in addition to organisations group visited in Ukraine, we heard that there more organizations which are in some way dealing with the issues related to drug use and support to drug users. That shows serious understanding of the problems regarding public health and human rights situation.

“What we have seen and learned there we should advocate to our countries, more specifically Western Balkans and Serbia, emphasizing that even Ukraine, in the complicated political situation, can find way to support harm reduction services as one of the key answers to prevention of Hep C and HIV. At the same time, in Serbia and specifically Belgrade with approx. 10.000 injecting drug users, we don’t have any organization offering any kind of harm reduction services.”

The third session of the workshops will start on 11 May 2018 in Podgorica, Montenegro, hosted by our member organisation Juventas. Over three days, the workshop will tackle homeless youth and focus more on organizational and ethical aspects of working with young homeless people and protection of human and social rights of young homeless people who use drugs.

Multi-stakeholder workshop on UN Convention against Corruption in Southeast Europe

UNODC hosted the first multi-stakeholder workshop on the United Nations Convention against Corruption and its Review Mechanism in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, from 25 to 29 September 2017. As the first such workshop held in Southeast Europe, the event aimed to develop capacities of around 60 participants across the region to contribute to the implementation of the Convention and its Review Mechanism.

The UN Convention against Corruption, ratified by 182 States, is the only legally binding, universal, anti-corruption instrument. Its far-reaching approach and the mandatory character of provisions make it a unique tool for developing a comprehensive response to global corruption issues.

The Convention covers five main areas: preventive measures, criminalization and law enforcement, international cooperation, asset recovery, and technical assistance and information exchange. The Convention covers many different forms of corruption, such as bribery, trading in influence, abuse of functions, and various acts of corruption in the private sector.

At the first review cycle, approximately 85 per cent of Governments involved civil society organizations in their country visits, building momentum to uphold their treaty obligations. The workshop, in this regard, reiterated the importance of this practice during the second review cycle, especially in the Southeast Europe region. It also aimed to promote collaboration between all relevant stakeholders.

Supported by the Austrian Development Agency through the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative, and by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the training informed participants about the methodology and tools for country reviews and build their capacity to reproduce workshop sessions at the national and regional levels. Participants engaged in a constructive dialogue by sharing their experiences, lessons learned and good practices, as well as undertaking practical exercises.

Milutin Milošević, the DPNSEE Executive Director, and Sanja Šišović CAZAS, Montenegro, participated in the workshop. That allowed them to gain a good insight in the Convention and opportunities to join the review process.