Improving how we are meaningfully involved: MSM and transgender communities report on their engagements in the Global Fund Funding Model

17 April 2020, Bangkok, Thailand – APCOM produced WERE WE ENGAGED MEANINGFULLY?, a regional synthesis of multi-country assessments of MSM and transgender communities’ meaningful engagements in the country processes of the Global Fund Funding Model. From 2015 to 2018, APCOM facilitated eight (8) in-country assessments to document and present the experiences of key populations and the quality of their engagements in the Global Fund Funding Model. The sets of information are gathered from Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Timor-Leste. The key population involved in these assessments are the men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender communities.

It must be noted that in some countries, the MSM and transgender communities are considered by national programmes to belong under one population. APCOM strongly advocates for disaggregated data between MSM, and transgender as a separate key population at the country levels. The sexual health needs of MSM and transgender communities are different. National programmes may be able to provide tailored services to the key population if the programmes are based on disaggregated data.

Were the MSM and transgender communities engaged meaningfully?

The MSM and transgender communities reported that they had limited opportunities to engage, contribute and influence the concept note development processes. The MSM and transgender communities shared that there is lack of confidence to meaningfully contribute to the national discussions. The communities’ meaningful engagements were also limited by geographic proximity to the country dialogues and CCM Meetings.

A participant from Indonesia during one of the assessments said: “I was not involved from the beginning. So, I was confused at first. I then accessed the information via the internet, and I found that there is quite some information (on the NFM). But of course, they are in English. For me, it is not a problem. It might be for colleagues in the communities.

Although a number of key population representatives have been invited to participate in country dialogues, many of them also felt that their participation was tokenistic because their attendance is a requirement for the Global Fund. While the overall representation and involvement of the communities was constrained by several factors, transgender communities’ representation and involvement were especially limited. In most meetings, only one transgender person was involved.

In all countries, key population representatives were not included nor involved in the drafting of the concept note for submission.

Meaningful engagement of the MSM and transgender communities was hindered by a lack of long-term investment to the community-based organisations. There is a grave necessity for capacity building of the community-based organisations (CBOs) particularly in the area of organisational development and governance, human resources, and programme management support. Key populations and their communities’ increased should also be manifest in the decision-making processes including negotiation, planning, and monitoring and evaluation of the programme.

Midnight Poonkasetwattana, APCOM Executive Director said “We are building a body of evidence, working closely with our community partners on the ground, to ensure that stakeholders will be able to help support our community to engage meaningfully in national processes that will ultimately affect their health outcomes. It is crucial as countries in our region are beginning to make submission to the Fund’s 2020-2022 windows and that with meaningful engagements from the community will contribute to the success of the programme implementation.”

He added, “In December 2019, we worked with Blue Diamond Society in Nepal to provide a safe space for a dialogue between the CCM members and 28 other community members who are trans and MSM, as they go through the next window of Global Fund submission in August 2020 so that not only the community understand the processes but can also help to improve the programme for their communities.”

How can we use this report?

The regional synthesis captures the experiences of the key population and their communities in engaging with the country processes of the Global Fund Funding Model. The report also presents recommendations to further support the coordination and collaboration of communities to engage more meaningfully.

For key populations, community-based organisations, and networks, the regional synthesis describes different efforts to increase your level of knowledge, understanding and engagements with the Funding Model. Country consultations and drafting of concept note are currently happening at country levels. As your country’s windows are approaching, you may use this report to discuss with the CCM your participation in the country processes, especially in the development of your country’s concept note. It is important that your community is involved in the process.

APCOM also enumerated potential trainings that you may need and demand from your national programmes to further improve your capacities.

For funders, the regional synthesis provides important recommendations on where to invest to strengthen the organisational capacities of key population networks, and further improve the engagements of key population communities with the Global Fund Funding Model. The MSM, transgender people, and key populations, must be at the center of the response and must be engaged meaningfully. APCOM encourage funders to allocate resources to ensuring platforms and creating opportunities for key populations to be involved in country processes.

What has happened since 2015?
Were actions taken?

One of APCOM’s main organisational strategies is to strengthen community networks by providing them strategic information and technical assistance.

In 2015, APCOM developed seventeen (17) community fact sheets on the Global Fund New Fund Model. These fact sheets contain information tailored to the 17 countries. The fact sheets aim to provide the key population communities with simplified information about the stages of the new funding model and how they can get involved.

APCOM also organised regional and country trainings and workshops to improve the capacities of community-based organisations in the areas of program management, communications, advocacy and data gathering.

To assist key population and their communities understand the concepts of Sustainability, Transition and Co-Financing, APCOM developed a fact sheet on Global Fund’s Policy on Sustainability, Transition and Co-Financing and World Bank Transition Checklist. The fact sheets were translated by our partners into local languages.

APCOM is leading on Community-Based Monitoring (CBM) for eight (8) countries under the Sustainability of Services for Key Populations in Asia (SKPA) Programme. Together with AFAO, an Implementing Guide for Community-Based Monitoring is developed for the key population networks at country levels. This enables key populations to monitor the quality of HIV services, most especially on areas of accessibility and availability, and provide recommendations for improvements.

APCOM is also leading on a community-led mechanism which enables key populations participate in the processes involved in Regional Operational Plans (ROP) under PEPFAR. The mechanism also allows communities assess and monitor the sustainability of key population-led HIV services and investments under Key Population Investment Fund (KPIF).

To read the report WERE WE ENGAGED MEANINGFULLY?: Synthesis of APCOM’s Multi-Country Report on MSM and Transgender Engagement in the Global Fund’s Funding Model Country Processes.

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