The Sustainable Community-led Monitoring (CLM) of HIV Services Toolkit, recently published by Australian Federation of AIDS Organization (AFAO) and APCOM, got its official launch event in mid-August 2022. The one-hour online event accommodated more than 80 registered participants who came from diverse backgrounds – from community-based organizations to government representatives – and various countries across Asia Pacific region.
The toolkit is part of The Global Fund’s Sustainability of HIV Services for Key Populations in Asia Program-2 (SKPA-2), implemented by Principal Recipient AFAO, where CLM is an integral component of the project. It aims to strengthen CLM implementation, while at the same time boost community ownership of CLM by simplifying concepts, tools and promoting flexible implementation modes. One of the objectives are also to standardize methodology and indicators to enable cross country comparisons and learning, not only in countries where SKPA-2 is implemented (Bhutan, Mongolia, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka), but also beyond.
Thoughtful opening remarks from Reeta Bhatia (UNAIDS Regional Support Team of Asia Pacific), kickstarts the event, while powerful reflections from Harry Prabowo (Asia Pacific Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (APN+)), meaningfully marks the end of the event. Susan Perez, as a representative from The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria also seasoned the event, by explaining how the CLM concept is fitting in within the current strategy of the organization and reiterates the importance of investing in community systems strengthening, such as CLM, is key to improve responses and outcomes for the three diseases.
Mike Merrigan, the SKPA-2 Technical Director, shared a comprehensive presentation that covers the overall CLM implementation, including step-by-step process of implementing CLM. He highlighted some key principles of CLM in SKPA-2:
- CLM should be led and owned by key population communities and community-led organizations;
- CLM will only be truly effective if key local and national stakeholders are involved throughout the process;
- Issues monitored under CLM are defined by affected communities themselves, regardless of who is funding;
- CLM should be adapted to the specific needs and barriers to HIV services faced by specific segments of key populations or people living with HIV;
- CLM should be an on-going process and a be based on a systematic and sustainable approach, ensuring accountability and continued improvements to HIV programs.
“CLM contributes to increase knowledge on HIV services among key populations and knowledge of HIV health care services to the key populations and moreover, critical to ensure key populations’ engagement,”said Nyampurev G. from Youth for Health Center Mongolia. They added,
“CLM is the key to overcome the barriers in HIV services with low cost.”
Community-led monitoring is an ongoing process in which service users or local communities gather, analyse and use information to support quality improvement of HIV services and advocacy efforts to increase uptake of and retention in HIV and related health services and, ultimately, to improve health outcomes for key populations.
Developed on the lessons learned from implementing CLM in the first SKPA program, the toolkit provides an overview of planning and implementing CLM wherein the data can be collected and analysed by community members.
The toolkit was developed in partnership with key population advocates and community-based organizations and by no coincidence it was designed to its simplest form, making it an easy-to-understand source for key population communities to adapt and implement to their context. It is even equipped with some reliable tools for reference (such as sample informed consent form, data collection tool, and template for CLM action planning), as well as few ethical considerations for people involved in CLM that emphasize on voluntary participation, confidentiality, and privacy, among others.
Ranaka Siriwardana from Family Planning Association (FPA) Sri Lanka commented,
“CLM toolkit being key populations-specific, is a timely and essential process that helps communities work together with other stakeholders and contribute to effect change, ensuring that the experience of key populations is considered intrinsic in understanding how effective HIV services are provided and received. SKPA-2 team in Sri Lanka looks forward to effectively implementing CLM activities in the coming months.”
Considering issues related to language barrier, which often posed as a great challenge for community-based organizations and ground level key population communities in the region, the toolkit has been translated into three local languages that are widely spoken in the SKPA-2 implementing countries (Sinhala, Tamil, and Mongolian). The tool kit in local languages will allow for better community buy-in and ensure community voices at the centre of the HIV response, with the hope of creating multi-sectoral collaboration for ideal service for the people who need it the most.
AFAO and APCOM expresses its gratitude to partners and collaborators, including Asia-Pacific Transgender Network (APTN), the Asia-Pacific Network of People living with HIV (APN+), the Asia-Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW), and the Philippine NGO Pinoy + for their contribution to developing the toolkit. Gratitude to SKPA-1 partners: Save the Children Bhutan, the Family Planning Association in Sri Lanka, the Community Health and Inclusion Association in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Youth for Health Center in Mongolia, Burnet Institute in Papua New Guinea, Love Yourself in the Philippines, Estrella+ in Timor-Leste, and the Malaysian AIDS Council. Also, thanks to the United Nations Joint Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the Global Fund for their significant contributions.
About the Contributor
Nicky Suwandi (He/Him/His)
Knowledge Management & Learning
Nicky led the demand generation initiatives during SKPA-1, and with his current position, he is aiming to facilitate discussions and promote cross-learning in the SKPA-2 project and beyond. In addition, his work is deeply rooted in creating meaningful changes for key population communities, specifically on HIV online interventions, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and sexualized drug use or chemsex. Hailing from Indonesia, he is equipped with a degree in communication studies, and have experience working in a national network for men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women, which comprises more than 80 community-based organizations and support groups across the archipelago.