The training included general information and practical steps in the advocacy process: identifying the issue and causes of the problem, research and budget analysis, stakeholders and advocacy targets, influencing budgets at national and municipal levels, mapping budget information and documents, planning, taking actions, monitoring, anti-corruption, reviewing, evaluation and learning.
The training was delivered by Darko Antikj from ESE and Vlatko Dekov from HOPS who have developed the model and successfully implemented it in Macedonia.
The training resulted in producing a national plan of action to be implemented by the end of 2019. It includes creating a platform of NGOs for sustainability of harm reduction services, ensuring political support, creation of a budget line in the health budget of the entities of the country, establishing a social contracting mechanism and agreeing on criteria and standards for the services.
Professor Michel Kazatchkine, the Special Advisor to the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS for East Europe and Central Asia, visited Bosnia Herzegovina from 3 to 6 September 2018.
Bosnia and Herzegovina can remain a country with the lowest HIV rate in Europe and sustained reduction of tuberculosis levels only if full implementation of the transition from international funding towards sustainable domestically owned HIV and TB responses is ensured. But, international funding from the Global Fund to Fight HIV/ AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB) and Malaria is ending this year.
During the visit, professor Kazatchkine has highlighted the importance of coordinated efforts of relevant domestic health, drug control, justice, legislation and other institutions and CSOs in all meetings including the State Minister of Civil Affairs, entity and cantonal ministers of Health, and representatives of civil society organisations involved in HIV and tuberculosis response policies. Professor Kazatchkine also emphasised that full implementation of domestically-owned transition plans is an imperative to sustain the current low rates of HIV patients and sustained reduction of tuberculosis levels as international funding from the Global Fund will no longer be available to Bosnia and Herzegovina. He added that the commitment expressed by domestic partners assures him that the country is able to achieve the (pre)set goals. However, it is urgent to sustain current results and services and make sure they move forward.
Professor Kazatchkine and his colleagues from UN agencies and the Global Fund participated in the meeting of the Country Coordinating Mechanism. Our colleagues from Margina and Viktorija presented the view of civil society organisations about the situation in the country.
As it was announced in the UNDP press release, the UN system and UNDP remains committed to supporting the transition to more domestic funding sources for continued access to equitable HIV and TB-related services especially for key populations at higher risk of being infected with HIV or those living with HIV / AIDS.
International funding from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is ending this year. A good sing is that the Ministry of Civil Affairs of Bosnia Herzegovina has, for the first time, introduced a budget line in the 2019 budget to support civil society organisations projects on prevention of HIV and tuberculosis.
The aim of the training was to gain mutual understanding of the project, the budget advocacy and monitoring model and role of the consultancy teams in implementing the national plans of actions. 15 participants came from the three involved countries.
The training will be delivered by Darko Antikj from ESE and Vlatko Dekov from HOPS who have developed the model and successfully implemented it in Macedonia.
The agenda included issues of:
Introduction to Budget cycle on national and local level
Budget research and analysis
Stakeholders and advocacy models
Planning and implementation of the budget advocacy process and
Country group work on national budget advocacy plan
The training have helped to clarify various issues related to the topic and the way the project will be implemented and agree on basis for designing the national plans. Also, it was specific team building exercise for the national consultancy teams.
On the margins of the dialogue between civil society and donors, representatives of the Open Society Foundations visited DPNSEE office on 18 January 2018: Daniel Wolfe, director of International Harm Reduction Development, Julia Greenberg, director of Governance and Financing, and Ekaterina Lukicheva, program officer for the International Harm Reduction Development Program (all three from the OSF Public Health Programme) along with Raminta Štuikyte, consultant. Vice-President Nebojša Đurasović, Secretary of the Board Denis Dedajić and Executive Director Milutin Milošević welcomed the distinguished guests.
DPNSEE hosts presented work and potentials of the Network and answered many questions. Guests were especially interested by the fact that DPNSEE gathers member organisations from all SEE countries and that it has a wide approach to the issue, including various elements of drug policy. They underlined that their full withdrawal from the region of Eastern Europe and Central Asia is not good so they decided to assign funds to it. In 2017, they already supported two CSO projects in Montenegro with and they still have funds for support to Bosnia Herzegovina, Romania and Serbia which were not distributed, while for 2018 they have planned additional support to the region. Agreement was reached, in principle, that DPNSEE will implement a project on budget advocacy and implementation in Serbia, on local and national level. DPNSEE also proposed such an initiative on the regional level. Discussions about potential cooperation extended throughout the next two days of meetings.
Before the meetings in Belgrade, OSF and GF representatives visited Montenegro to discuss implementation of the two project they finance since 2017 and preparations for the national project application to the Global Fund. Our member organisations Cazas and Juventas were involved in the meetings.
Representatives of Margina and Viktorija had working meetings with both OSF and GF representatives. Result of the meetings is that the same support as the one for Montenegro is proposed for Bosnia Herzegovina, for a similar project adjusted to the structure of the country. Two projects are foreseen: one on accreditation of the harm reduction services in the Republic of Srpska and other on social contracting in the Federation of BH. The trigger for this decision was presentation which Denis had as panellist.
The OSF visit ended with visit to the Drop-in for drug users and Shelter for sex workers in Novi Sad managed by Prevent. The visit was very effective, with excellent presentation of Prevent’s work and very emotional discussion with three sex workers in the Shelter. At the end the guests (including representatives of SWAN and Mama Cash foundation) haven’t made any concrete promise for support but they expressed their willingness to help finding donors. The visit should be used as a model for welcoming donors and convincing them to finance services.
The Open Society Foundations convened civil society activists from HIV, harm reduction, sex worker and LGBT communities from South Eastern Europe and health and human rights donors to discuss opportunities for strategic collaboration to sustain HIV prevention services for key populations and facilitate transition to domestic financing of these programs. The half-day meeting was held on 18 January 2018 in Belgrade, Serbia.
The aims of the meeting were:
Share examples of civil society advocacy towards domestic financing of HIV services, including efforts to push national governments to commit to provision and financing of services for key populations;
Discuss current challenges sustaining programming for key populations in the region with a specific focus on the threats to the human rights movements, programs, and advocates that were directly and indirectly supported by the Global Fund when it was still active in the region;
Present examples of how targeted donor support for civil society engagement in transition and sustainability process can bolster government ownership of the HIV response;
Discuss strategies and opportunities to address the service gap and enable civil society to navigate the transition process, as well as roles that donors, regional networks and technical agencies can play.
DPNSEE member organisations representatives were panellists: Denis from Margina and Dragos from RHRN presenting situation in Bosnia Herzegovina and Romania, Ivana from Juventas presenting the promising case study of Montenegro and Milutin, together with two other networks (ERA – LGBTI Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey and SWAN – Sex Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network) on possibilities for work together to strengthen national and regional advocacy.
Many organisations were at the list of potential invitees. Finally, around 35 CSO participated. Besides DPNSEE, 9 member organisations were present: Aksion Plus, Margina, Viktorija, Labyrinth, Cazas, Juventas, ARAS, RHRN and Prevent.
The meeting was mainly about presenting situation and needs, with not many questions and comments from the floor. Most of the results were achieved in informal exchanges with other participants. Besides OSF and Global Fund representatives, donors included Embassy of France in Serbia, Mama Cash and Reconstruction Women’s Fund (Serbia). Representatives of other Networks included Eurasian Harm Reduction Network and Eurasian coalition on male Health.
Just after the main meeting of the dialogue, an Informal dialogue on LGBTI and HIV in South-Eastern Europe was organised by the ERA – LGBTI Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey. Most of the DPNSEE member organisations participated in the meeting that addressed the current work done, gaps and challenges in collaborating towards protecting LGBTI rights and addressing HIV and needs and opportunities for a regional approach and support of this work.
The Senior Level Policy Dialogue “Addressing HIV and TB Challenges: from Donor Support to Sustainable Health Systems” was organised in Tallinn, Estonia on 12 and 13 December 2017 as an official event in the programme of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
The event, organised by the Ministry of Social Affairs and National Institute for Health Development from Estonia, WHO European Region, UNAIDS, and the Global Fund, brought together representatives of the health and financial ministries of Europe, the Balkan and Eastern Partnership countries, representatives of the European Commission, international organisations, as well as community representatives and institutions involved in funding programmes and offering services to tackle HIV and TB.
In Eastern Europe the fight against HIV and tuberculosis has largely been funded through international organisations (such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria). However, this kind of funding is not sustainable in the long term.
The participants searched for ways to smoothly transition from funding through foreign aid programmes to sustainable state funding. They outlined the best practices, challenges, opportunities and risks related to integrating HIV and TB programmes into a national health system. The discussions included the role and responsibility of various institutions and organisations in stopping the HIV and TB epidemics.
DPNSEE and 4 participating member organisations representatives (Cazas, Juventas, Margina and Viktorija) actively contributed to the meeting, including two panellists who gave a specific insight in the situation of the region. Both the experiences from South East Europe and challenges we face were presented, emphasized and mentioned by many participants. The meeting was also a good opportunity to establish contacts and generate ideas for future cooperation.
Participation of the SEE representatives was made possible by generous support from the Open Society Foundation.
Preparing for the regional meeting “Addressing HIV and TB Challenges: from Donor Support to Sustainable Health Systems”, civil society organisations from Eastern Europe and Central Asia met on 11 December in Tallinn. Aim of the meeting was to consolidate and build opportunities for cooperation in advocacy efforts of civil society representatives during and after the meeting.
The pre-meeting gathered 14 representatives from civil society and community organisations mainly from South East European countries and regional community networks. Unfortunately because of heavy snow in the departure airports and delayed flights a lot of participants could not join.
There were two main issues of the meeting which of great importance for civil society and communities: transitioning of services to domestic funding and integration of it into the health and social care system.
The structure of the outcome document was presented and discussed. Next week key points from the document could be used for the plenary meeting of the Civil Society Forum of HIV, Hepatitis and Tuberculosis.