The Balkans’ response to COVID-19

The #‎SoS_project offers the second in a series of “Response to COVID-19” events. On 27 April 27 2021, from 11:00 to 13:30 (CEST, UTC +2) or 12:00-14:30 (EEST, UTC +3), an online discussion will take place “The Balkans’ response to COVID-19: experience of #SoS_project partners”.

The Agenda includes following items:

  • Maintaining essential HIV services and introducing new ones in Covid-19 time – Andrej Senih, Executive Director Заедно посилни (North Macedonia)
  • Innovation in Covid-19 response – Aida Kurtović , LLB, MA, Executive Director of Partnerstvo za zdravlje / Partnerships in Health (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
  • COVID-19 case detection and vaccination – implementation strategy and challenges – Goran Radisavljević, CEO, Timočki Omladinski Centar (Serbia)
  • Access to HIV prevention, testing and treatment during COVID 19 epidemic – Sanja Šišovic, program director of NGO CAZAS (Montenegro)
  • Results of the study on the impact of COVID-19 on the sustainability of HIV and TB services (accent on Balkan) – Dr. Fifa_Rahman, principal researcher of the Matahari Global Solutions (United Kingdom)

To register for the COVID-19 online discussion follow this link>>>.

 

New ties, new opportunities

DPNSEE hosted the Donor conference for vulnerable populations in South East Europe on Thursday 6 August 2020. The aim of the Conference was to present the needs and potential projects of vulnerable populations in South East Europe and establish better communication, coordination and cooperation between service providers and public and private funding programmes.

The Conference included plenary presentations from the region and donors and work in two separate discussion rooms: Sustainability of services for vulnerable populations and Emerging needs of key populations.

47 representatives of civil society organisations, international organisations and donor community participated.

We hope to produce and distribute the report from the Conference in the next few days.

The presentations from the Conference are ready to download:

  • Monica Ciupagea, Expert – Drug use and HIV, HIV/AIDS section, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime: HIV prevention, treatment and care among people who use drugs following this link>>>.
  • Jan Zlatan Kulenović, Director of Programs, Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO): Supporting Regional Youth Cooperation following this link>>>.
  • Sergii Filippovych, Project Director, Alliance for Public Health, Ukraine, coordinator of the regional #SOS_project supported by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: Sustainability of services for key populations in EECA & SEE Region following this link>>>.
  • Ganna Dovbakh, Executive Director, Eurasian Harm Reduction Association: Key challenges of harm reduction in COVID era following this link>>>.
  • Yuri de Boer, Senior Program Manager, AFEW International: Emergency Support Fund for Key Populations in EECA following this link>>>.

 

 

Strategic planning to improve sustainability of HIV prevention services

The Alliance for Public Health engaged a group of experts to perform a brief assessment of the latest experiences in the Serbia on financing civil society organisations with national funds, including the Global Fund national grant, and to plan on the national level for the sustainability strategy and concrete steps.

The experts visited Serbia from 16 to 20 December and held a serial of meetings with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Health Insurance Fund, CSOs and other stakeholders. At the last day of the mission, the concluding stakeholder consultation with presentation of preliminary findings was conducted.

The visit was organized by DPNSEE member organization Timočki omladinski centar, who is the national lead of the multi-country project implemented by the consortium led by the Alliance. Representatives of DPNSEE and our other member organisations Prevent and Duga also contributed at the meetings.

SOS project coordination meeting

On October 2 – 3, the coordination meeting of the multi-country #sos_project, managed implemented by the consortium led by the Alliance for Public Health was held in Skopje, North Macedonia. The project team met with colleagues from the Balkan region to discuss budget advocacy issues, further interaction and strengthening of cooperation between EECA and the Balkans.

The priority areas of the cooperation are:

  • Implementation of WHO protocols with the inclusion of assisted and self-tested HIV testing.
  • ART price optimization.
  • Development of regulatory changes to improve the quality of HIV services.
  • Popularization of PrEP in the region of Southeast Europe.

DPNSEE President Vlatko Dekov and Board member Denis Dedajić presented our work on budget advocacy and monitoring in countries of South East Europe, supported by the European Harm Reduction Association and Open Society Foundations.

#SoS_project launched

Alliance for Public Health, leading a regional consortium uniting Network of People living with HIV/AIDS 100% Life, Central-Asian PLH Association and Eurasian Key Populations Health Network (EKHN), manages the multi-country project ‘Sustainability of services for key populations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia region’, funded by the Global Fund in amount up to USD 13 million. The project will be implemented throughout 2019-2021 and aims to reduce the HIV epidemic in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia and South East Europe regions through accelerating progress on Fast-Track by 2020 and to ensure the sustainability of HIV services for key populations in 14 countries of the regions: Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

The project launch meeting was held on 26 March 2019 in Kyiv, Ukraine. It gathered all implementing partners, regional and global stakeholders, donors active in the region to discuss the program approaches and plans, get strategies advise and coordinate with other regional initiatives to maximize impact of investment.

At the project coordination meeting on 27 March all regional consortium members, project sub-recipients, implementing and technical partners in the region to discuss and coordinate the concrete plans and timelines for project activities among the implementers.

To achieve the expected savings, the project will develop strategies for optimizing the cost of ART regimens, which will lead to a decrease in the average cost of first-line ART. Advocacy activities will also be carried out aimed at reducing prices for ARVs and using savings to finance the needs of prevention and care services for the Key Groups and PLHIV. In addition, work to optimize clinical guidelines for ART, a list of drugs in accordance with WHO guidelines is planned, as well as advocacy to include countries in voluntary licensing and registration of generic manufacturers.

Andriy Klepikov, the Executive Director of the Alliance for Public Health, said that almost half of these funds ($ 5.6 million) will go to the advocacy of the reduction of prices for ARV drugs and optimization of procurement mechanisms.  Another quarter of the project budget ($ 3.2 million) is planned for budget advocacy. $ 1.6 million is provided for the removal of legal barriers, the same amount for project management. Another $ 1 million will go to operational research.

“The idea is not only to throw in some initiatives, but simultaneously with such interventions to launch operational research, which will help identify and prove their effectiveness,” explained Klepikov. – “It worked, in particular, in Ukraine. But we would not want other countries to take it on faith. In each country for advocacy, before the Ministry of Health will start funding, it is important to get a serious evidence base, which is collected through operational research”.

DPNSEE member organisations Cazas and Timok Youth Centre will be sub-recipients of the project in Montenegro and Serbia, while HOPS is involved in project implementation in North Macedonia.