“Social contracting is not simply government providing grants to civil society organizations. With the right combination of policy, financial, and programmatic initiatives, a country’s health system can leverage the process of social contracting to improve efficiency and sustainability of the HIV response,”commented Huiling Pan from Health Equity Matters Team who moderated the Asia Pacific regional forum on HIV programmes financial sustainability, with specific focus on social contracting
“Beyond the Hype: Setting Up Social Contracting to Sustain Key Population Programs” was a hybrid event that took place on 5 September 2023, which catered to almost 200 registered online participants and about 40 in-person participants at the Novotel Sukhumvit 20 Hotel Bangkok. UNAIDS Asia Pacific representative was the first presenter, setting up the scene by providing landscape of sustainable financing for community-led HIV responses in the region, the event was also part of Sustainability of HIV Services for Key Populations in Asia Program-2 (SKPA-2) Learning Series, regularly producing quality webinars once every quarter that covers wide array of topics related to HIV response and programmes.
The first half of the forum reflected on the experience and good practices of social contracting for key population HIV programs in Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, advocating for other countries to pursue social contracting reform. “Nobody said it will be easy, but make a trail anyway. No matter how good the program is, it’s nothing if the community does not own it. People – above all else,” commented Rhoda Tiongson from ACHIEVE Philippines, who showcased amazing progress on civil society organizations contracting currently taking place in the country.
“The country should ensure that there is enough evidence to prove that the community-led organizations are technically competent and have provided HIV-related services among key population communities in the past,” said Dr Pandup Tshering from Bhutan, one of the panelists for the event. He added, “It is also important to have documented evidence that the role of the civil society organizations is critical to achieve the National HIV-related targets.” The second half of the forum was presented in the form of talk show format, featuring an eclectic range of panelists ranging from key population community members to government representatives.
Joining the forum to provide donor and development partner perspective, Breshna Orya from The Global Fund commented, “Establishing a stable and long-term funding allocated for HIV-related community initiatives ensures that these organizations can plan and execute programs with confidence, without the uncertainty of funding fluctuations. We need to ensure that funds are disbursed efficiently, and that reporting and monitoring systems are in place to track progress and outcomes. Transparency in funding allocation helps build trust and ensures that resources are used effectively.”
Disclaimer: Full report of this regional forum will be shared at a later date.