BANGKOK, 30 April 2021
APCOM is proud to release the report of the Community Summit 2020 which took place between 23-27 November 2022. APCOM coordinated among the community organisations and partners, and exhibited remarkable resilience and tenacity as it embarked the one-of-a-kind and highly anticipated Community Summit 2020 despite the alarming threats, challenges and restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A trailblazer hybrid approach in conferencing was proudly introduced during the said Summit which participants across Asia and the Pacific region can engage in an interactive discussions, bringing together voices of the communities working on HIV, rights, health, wellbeing and LGBTQI. All our sessions can be accessed via our online virtual platform and for physical sessions we took an immense effort to ensure that there’s strict compliance on COVID-19 prevention and safety protocols recommended by WHO and imposed by the Thai Government.
“We would like to thank our donors for being flexible in order to have a community-led summit at a time when we are all in flux, and thus there is greater need for a coordinated efforts. Thank you to our community parters for ensuring that we are able to help profile their voices, issues, concerns and solutions that the pandemic has caused,”Commented APCOM Executive Director, Midnight Poonkasetwattana.
With nearly about to 250 participants, including community members, civil society leaders, policy makers, HIV scientists, researchers and policy makers from within the region and at the global level paved the way to the success of the event – organized by the community for the community going through difficult times during pandemic crises.
Sessions were varied with sessions on engaging the private sector, fundraising 101, PrEP progress overview, how LGBTQI leaders are coping mentally, as well as science of Covid-19 and PLHIV. Some of the key highlights from the APCOM Community Summit are related to;
- Engaging with the private sector: Many multinational corporations (MNCs) which have a global commitment to diversity and inclusion have not implemented these commitments on a country-level scale, opening a window of opportunity for community organizations to approach MNCs for partnership.
- Community-led and Community-based Monitoring: There is a need for technical support and capacity building to ensure that the community is able to conduct community-led monitoring in a sustainable way, and also that there is a feeback mechanism to ensure quality and programme improvement.
- Demand Generation for HIV Services: Communities have been able to adapt and use innovative approaches and techniques by integrating technologies during the current pandemic crises to reach the most vulnerable, for example PrEP for men who have sex with men.
- U=U (Undetectable = Untransmittable) in Asia Pacific: U=U can be used as an advocacy tool to push for greater investment in rapid viral load diagnostics.
- Differentiated Service Delivery (DSD): Although DSD models have advanced significantly across the region during the pandemic, many structural and operational issues which hinder implementation still need to be addressed.
- COVID-19, HIV and the community in Asia Pacific: The impact of Covid-19 on socioeconomic, mental health, and HIV and STD treatment service, and human rights of LGBTQI people.
- Chemsex: Emerging issue in some countries in the region, yet many mainstream health services are often unfamiliar with Chemsex, which when coupled with a lack of acceptance and tolerance might prevent people at risk of HIV from seeking prevention services.
On Wednesday 25 November 2020, this was dedicated to sessions on “Diversity and Inclusion of LGBTQI+ in the Private Sector”, including the development of a roadmap which outlines how to forge alliances between the private sector and the community, so that diversity and inclusion policies can be translated into action and, in doing so, the private sector is held accountable. We were honoured to have a representative from the Embassy of the Netherlands to open the day.
Prof. Lee Badget, one of the online panelists said, “The more you talk about it, the more familiar it becomes, and the easier it is to talk to your workforce. Opportunity to make an argument for businesses to understand. Leverage places that have already changed, sharing that as a competitive beacon for companies that want to grow that‘s a way that we can make these grand hopes and promises for human rights law and non-discrimination law a reality. It’s not going to happen on its own. I think we can do it, we are doing it, and I think this a way we can make inclusion a reality.”
Furthermore, the session ended in fashionable manner with treasure to keep and a profound word of wisdom to ponder from the Professor Emeritus himself, Prof. Vitit Muntharborn,
“It’s time for the business sector to stand up and lead our government to provide safeguards and open the door. If you want us to come out, then make our businesses come out as well. If you want to see peaceful transitions to our gender identity, you have to transition with us. If you want us to have physical dignity in our body, then you need to respect our dignity.”
An appreciation to the dedication and hard work of APCOM resonated eloquently from one of our community partner from Papua New Guinea during her speakership from one of the session, Maura Eluarpe from Key Population Consortium, “Working with partners within the regional network has been very useful. They can understand what country networks are feeling. People need to understand that the Asia Pacific is a region that is so diverse. Yes, we have to understand our context. For me to work with APCOM in this project has provided me the support to feel that I could understand what was explained, I got to know what was right, and speak in the community language. We understand each other well. APCOM know the community in a deep level, they can speak our native language, they can identify with us and I strongly call on this!”
Significantly, important and relevant findings culminated from this fruitful Summit will be included in APCOMs next strategy document to address the emerging issues, challenges and external environment in the Asia and Pacific region. Generated and gathered information will used by APCOM as an evidence for more informed advocacy activities to reduce stigma and discrimination and to inculcate an enabling environment for the key populations, and advance LGBTQI inclusion. Lastly, APCOM envisions and highly driven to continuously provide technical assistance support to key population for an effective response to HIV and human rights violations in the region fostering a much stronger interlinked communities and broader partner networks.
Paving the way forwards on HIV Programming and HIV services for Key Populations
Click on the links below to see the summary of the key lessons learned, challenges faced and recommendations for taking these discussions forwards and turning them into action.