Mohammad Usman, Dareecha Male Health Society
What was/were you or your organization’s engagements for AIDS2020 in San Francisco, if any?
My name is Mohammad Usman, Program Director from Dareecha Male Health Society in Pakistan. On behalf of my organization, I presented the session title “Setting up National HIV Programming for Key Populations in Pakistan. The overall session is about how COVID-19 has affected the National HIV Programme to deliver its HIV services to the Key population in the Country.
Have you attended any of the previous AIDS conferences? What the advantages and disadvantages of virtual conferencing?
Yes, I attended the previous AIDS conference held in Paris in 2017. Like any other thing in life, online meetings/conference has its advantages and disadvantages. Amid COVID- 19, a virtual platform is the most convenient platform to meet with people. However, virtual conference/ meeting is not a good platform to engage with key communities effectively. It reduces a personal connect with key communities and makes the relationship dry. Also, the virtual conferencing will give a less chance for general talks.
Point to be considered in organizing a Virtual Conferencing?
- Pre-engagement with the participants/ attendees,
- Pre-record presentations or videos.
- Allocate time for presenters/speakers
- Test the available resources
(For. E.g., internet connection, audio speakers, projector connections, etc.)
What are the challenges faced by the country-based CBOs/ Key population communities (in your country) in accessing virtual platforms in online meetings or conferences?
A large amount of communities or key population networks in Pakistan is less tech-savvy. They are less aware of online platforms and their functions. They are also not quite comfortable to demonstrate/ present their work through online platforms.
We are now operating in a COVID-19 era where most activities are conducted online. How do we strengthen the technical capacity of the CBOs/KPs to engage effectively?
- Provide a short training to key communities on how to use online platforms or venues.
- Assign a trainer to train their communities on online platforms/venues and their functions.
- Provide a list of names of free online platforms to CBOs/KPs.
Have you or your organization received any support from APCOM in engaging in the AIDS2020 Conference?
To engage in this AIDS2020 conference, APCOM has supported me all the way;
1. Explained to me how this online venue/platform works.
2. Conducted pre-meeting with me and assisted me to practice my session.
3. Prerecorded my session and presentations.
In summary, APCOM guided me to engage in AIDS2020 conference effectively. It also provided me a platform, i.e., AIDS2020 conference, to raise challenges or issues of communities (in Pakistan) in accessing HIV services amid COVID-19.
What are your recommendations for APCOM in organizing regional meetings which involve online platforms to make it as effective as, or more effective, face-to-face meetings?
Amid of COVID-19, APCOM can conduct blended meetings, meaning virtual and face to face meetings – this will benefit both in-country and remote participants. However, for any online meetings in the future (hosted by APCOM), APCOM should;
- provide clear guidance/ instructions about the online venues/ platforms to all the participants in advance.
- Test the technology (Microphones, speakers, etc.).
- Use the meeting software that can accommodate a large number of participants
What did you like about this AIDS2020 Conference? Things you learned from this platform
What I like: This virtual AIDS2020 conference saved my time and cost.
What I learned:
Strengthened my technical skills on how to use online platforms