COVID-19 has placed half of world’s population in confinement which include curfews and quarantines. Some 2.78 billion residents of 49 countries and territories are currently subject to obligatory confinement at home. In at least 10 other countries, totalling 600 million people, governments are urging residents to stay at home. At least 26 other nations or territories, accounting for some 500 million inhabitants, have introduced curfews, obliging people to stay at home throughout the evening and night. In most places, people are still able to get out of the house to make vital purchases, such as food or medicine or to go to work, though residents are encouraged to work from home if possible.
In Asia, these rules apply to India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, among others.
The government measures on confinement, curfews and quarantines has greatly affected the HIV service delivery, and human rights work and advocacy not only in the region but most especially at the country level.
Although seen as preventive measures, APCOM believes that the situation should also be viewed and analysed from human rights and SOGIESC lens.
This translates to looking at programs and interventions from the point of view of basic human rights principles including equality and non-discrimination, protection and respect of human rights, amount others. This also entails looking into the experiences of the most at risk and vulnerable populations in crafting responses and interventions. This also requires participation from those affected, to the extent possible, given the situation.
In addressing the pandemic, APCOM reiterates that all interventions should be rights based and incorporate a SOGIESC lens. This will contribute to responses ensuring that rights are still respected, and specific vulnerabilities are looked into. That existing vulnerabilities will not be aggravated. This will also contribute to realizing the goal of leaving no one behind.
We collectively call donors and supporters to:
In relation to health services and programs:
- Ensure that the promised and obligated funding dedicated for key populations, community-led HIV services, community systems strengthening, and HIV programs remains the same and not significantly reduced so as to continue the health service delivery at the community level;
- Allow flexibility for regional key population networks and country-based networks and CBOS to create and broaden online-based activities aimed at key populations. The results of this work should be considered in the indicator;
- Allow the community-based organisations who are working with at-risk-populations to procure COVID-19 rapid test kits, and work with the relevant government agencies to implement mass COVID-19 testing for key populations and LGBTQI communities;
- Heighten the support to community-based organisations providing testing and ART to key populations to allow continuity and increase coverage for HIV service delivery and other health services to key populations who are marginalised by the COVID-19 outbreak;
- Allow flexibilities for timelines and project implementation. The communities working on HIV and LGBTQI are currently affected from the impact of the pandemic particularly physical health, mental health, and human rights. Communities are adjusting to work from home and coordinate remotely, while being considerate to other members of staff and networks who might not be able to do so due to lack of access to internet. Furthermore, the uncertainty of when the quarantine would end and when regular operations would resume is detrimental to the implementation of this project.
In relation to the operational and organisational needs of regional networks and community-based organisations:
- Provide tools on precautionary and preventive measures to guide organisations in protecting and safeguarding its staff, partners and clients amid global pandemic. The community-based networks’ and organisations’ utmost priority are the safety and security of its workforce while continuing services to clients with less interruptions as possible. The donors and technical support agencies should acknowledge this by supporting CBOs to put in place operational protocols that can be observed by staff and community members;
- Organise online trainings or webinars on emergency life-saving protocols, technical guidance and support on navigating uncertain circumstances such as global pandemic while continuing the delivery of services under situations of lockdown;
- Provide basic preventive materials such as hand sanitizers and masks for the staff and clients of HIV and LGBTQI community-based organisations. There is a shortage of all those supplies from the market due to the situation. Although CBOs are already providing sanitizers and masks for the staff and clients, they are procured in very high prices from private suppliers. It is challenging for CBOs to procure preventive materials at the country level.
APCOM would like to say a special thank you to the following partners in helping to provide information for the collective call:
Cambodia (Micro Rainbow International)
India (Gopi Shankar, founder of Srishti Madurai)
Indonesia (Suara Kita, Yayasan Gaya Dewata)
Lao PDR (Lao Positive Health Association)
Mongolia (Youth for Health)
Nepal (Blue Diamond Society)
Pakistan (Dareecha Health Society)
Sri Lanka (Palitha Vijayabandara)
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