Accreditation of Peer Outreach Services for Key Population in Bhutan

By July 4, 2024 SKPA

Contributor:
Kesang Tshokey
Gender and Human Rights Coordinator (HRGC)
Save the Children Bhutan


Bhutan has consistently maintained a low-level HIV epidemic, with fewer than 100 estimated annual new HIV infections since 2011. However, to sustain this, understanding HIV transmission pathways is crucial for effectively targeting prevention programs and optimizing resource allocation. The HIV allocative efficiency analysis in Bhutan, using the OPTIMA model, emphasizes the importance of targeted interventions for key populations, including men who have sex with men, transgender individuals, sex workers, and people who inject drugs.

Countries like Thailand and India recognize the significance of comprehensive and culturally sensitive outreach by collaborating with key populations, especially sex workers and transgender individuals. Similarly, Sustainability of HIV Services for Key Populations in South-East Asia (SKPA)-2 program in Bhutan, supported by Save the Children Bhutan, achieved a remarkable milestone in empowering key populations by enhancing the capacity of their Peer Outreach Workers (PORWs).

In collaboration with the National HIV/AIDS and STI Control Program (NACP) and the Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMSB), a comprehensive training manual for PORWs was developed in 2023. In September and November 2023, over 40 members from key population organizations, including Lhaksam, Queer Voices of Bhutan, Pride Bhutan, The Red Purse Network, and Chithuen Phenday Association, participated in two rounds of a 10-day training. The program aimed to equip participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to serve their communities effectively, establishing accreditation standards for community-based organizations (CBOs) and key population organization (KPO) service providers.

Endorsed by national authorities, including the KGUMSB and the Ministry of Health (MoH), the training program also developed a comprehensive toolkit for the accreditation system of KPOs. It enhanced the capacity of KPO members to meet these standards in delivering HIV services. Following the Bhutan Qualification and Professionals Certification Authority (BQPCA) standards, participants were assessed during (40% weightage) and after the training through a final written assessment (60% weightage). Those who met the criteria received accreditation, allowing them to conduct outreach work for up to three years.

PORWs act as trusted intermediaries between health services and their communities, facilitating access to testing, treatment, and support services while addressing the unique needs and challenges faced by key populations. The program’s success is highlighted by the accreditation and employment of seven members from Pride Bhutan and the Red Purse Network as PORWs through the national grant program. These PORWs work closely with health workers at Health Information Service Centres (HISCs) and General Hospitals, extending their outreach within their communities.

Such efforts demonstrate Bhutan’s commitment to ensuring effective HIV services and support for key populations. By fostering healthier communities and reducing the spread of HIV and STIs, a powerful standard of targeted, community-driven health intervention has been established.

 Published on: 04-Jul-2024


About the Contributor

Kesang Tshokey

Gender and Human Rights Coordinator (HRGC)
Save the Children Bhutan

Kesang Tshokey is the HRG Coordinator for SKPA 2, while also serving as a member of Safeguarding for the Accountability and Safeguarding Working Group with Save the Children Bhutan. Prior to the current role, Kesang Tshokey used to work as a Program Officer with the National Commission for Women and Children under the Royal Government of Bhutan.


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