Bangkok, 22 October 2021 – The Global Fund’s next Strategy to commence in 2023 is expected to be approved at the Fund’s board meeting in November. The strategy process has involved civil society and key population organisations, in particular through the 6th Partnership Forums. APCOM partners from Indonesia, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, and Pakistan, submitted their letters on Thursday 21 October 2021 to Peter Sands, the Global Fund Executive Director, and Donald Kaberuka, the Global Fund Chair of the Board, urging that the voices, priorities and recommendations of and by communities working on HIV, rights and wellbeing of gay men, other men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people in Asia and the Pacific be heard, and that the shared goal of leaving no one behind in the HIV response be reached.
“We would like to see a more human-centered approach in the next strategy which puts the key populations at the center, and that investment must be increased to sustain communities that are providing key services to the most stigmatized groups, where laws, policies and practices fail to guarantee access to services,”Midnight, APCOM Executive Director
The letters are country-specific, each providing recommendations based on the Strategy Framework approved by the Global Fund Board in July 2021. It is imperative for key population organisations in the Asia and the Pacific region to actively participate in this process, as the strategy will contribute to the ambitious 2030 goals for HIV and health, as broadly set out in UN Sustainable Development Goal Three, namely to ‘ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.’
In the letters to the Global Fund leadership, APCOM country partners from the five countries put forward practical recommendations on how the Global Fund can more effectively implement the new strategy to maximize impact on the response to HIV among gay men, other MSM and transgender people. The letters are a result of a lengthy consultation process between APCOM and country partners, who consulted their communities at country level to ensure that local voices were heard.
“It’s a high requirement that the next Global fund strategy should be community-centered. Aside from highlighting significance related to the health intervention programme and its issues, it should also highlight priorities of advocacy and human rights intervention programmes.”Dr. Min Thet Phyo San from Myanmar Youth Stars Network
The purpose of the letters is to ensure that the new Global Fund strategy and operational plan prioritize investment and support for gay men, other MSM and transgender people in Asia and the Pacific, and to emphasize inclusion and non-discrimination against the community. Below are examples of what the letters entail:
In order to ‘Maximizing People-centered Integrated Systems for Health to Deliver Impact, Resilience and Sustainability’, the Global Fund must:
- Strengthen the capacity of the local organization and HIV program implementing organizations by developing alternative and innovative outreach strategies, to help overcome barriers to outreach workers in an effort to improve the quality of outreach amid an increasingly intolerant situation with a human rights approach, gender sensitive, and focus on fulfillment of gay men, other MSM and transgender people outreach officers in the scope of prevention, care, mentoring, care and support in HIV issues;
- Integrate one stop services for key populations including HIV/sexual and reproductive health, mental health and providing service linkage;
- Formulate global strategic guidelines for emergencies and disasters. In the event of major future disruptions like the pandemic, there is an unavoidable need to have a systemic, holistic, synchronized strategy for all stakeholders.
In order to ‘Maximizing the Engagement and Leadership of Most Affected Communities to Leave No One Behind’, the Global Fund must:
- Support the mobilization and develop the advocacy capacity of networks of key affected and marginalized MSM/TGW in the context of HIV, TB and malaria as well as people of diverse sexuality for their effectively advocacy in health-related decision-making, including in-country coordinating mechanisms (CCM);
- Provide funding support on capacity strengthening of community-led organizations and invest more funding on community-led interventions, especially on HIV prevention;
- Promote volunteerism and conduct community-based dialogues as well as capacity building training. Implement programs focusing on leadership of most affected communities. This needs to have the goal of empowerment, strengthening and adequate education of the communities concerned.
In order to ‘Maximizing Health Equity, Gender Equality and Human Rights’, the Global Fund must:
- Support the comprehensive package of gender- and SOGIESC-sensitization for key government and other health service institutions and coordination bodies to promote embedding of gender- and SOGIESC-responsive approaches and interventions in health policies, programmes, and budgets;
- Increase the understanding and awareness of community-based organizations (CBOs) members of the importance of safety and security both individually and organization;
- Coordinate with the related key stakeholders to make the legal environment among Key Population and participate in law/policy reform process.
The process is a continuation from the previous APCOM initiative related to the Global Fund new strategy development process. A letter was sent to the Global Fund by APCOM and partners from 11 countries prior to the 6th Partnership Forum 3: Asia & MENA II discussion, which took place on 3 to 5 March 2021. Quintessentially, the previous and current initiatives are a tireless effort to ensure that the next strategy of the Global Fund will not only reflect communities’ voice but truly be human-centered and addressing community needs.
Thank you to the following leadership at the country level for adding the voices from their communities to this important initiative:
- Dr. Min Thet Phyo San, Network and Programme Coordinator, Myanmar Youth Stars Network, Myanmar
- M. Slamet, Executive Director, GWL-INA National Network, Indonesia
- Muhammad Usman, Program Director, Dareecha Health Society, Pakistan
- Myagmardorj Dorjgotov, Executive Director, Youth for Health Center, Mongolia
- Viengakhone Souriyo, Executive Director, Community Health & Inclusion Association (CHIAs), Laos