Jamra primary scholl for children affected by HIV/AIDS, drugs or poverty, Senegal (c) Nell Freeman/Alliance Participants in the Photovioce project, Ecuador © Marcela Nievas for the Alliance
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Alliance exchange brings change

30
JUL
2010

Distributing condoms, clean syringes, and education materials on the streets of Kiev, Ukraine © Gideon Mendel/Alliance

Last year three Alliance Horizontal Learning Exchanges took place around the world; where one Alliance member visits another. Through an evaluation a year on we find out what lasting difference it has made.

The exchanges support mutual learning and sharing between Alliance members, and are made possible through support from the Alliance Secretariat in the UK. The three exchanges in 2009 were:

We caught up with the participants and found that the learning had resulted in changes in practice and, ultimately, more effective responses to HIV.

PEER EDUCATORS

After seeing how well-trained peer educators at Via Libre could strengthen and improve the quality of services for PLHA, Dr Gacet Macarena Apaza Alcaraz reports that peer educators have become the backbone of IDH and a fundamental part of comprehensive care provision. Via Libre’s multidisciplinary approach and inclusion of psychosocial support for PLHA has also inspired IDH to successfully trial the use of music and dance therapy into their work as a way of strengthening relationships and decreasing anxiety.

GENDER SENSITIVE SERVICES

After visiting the Step by Step Community Centre in the Ukraine, which uses a peer intervention approach to reach female injecting drug users, SASO has developed a new strategy for this group. They have also made changes to their current programme to provide a more gender sensitive service to this hidden population.

“Before we were having a male counsellor for the female injecting drug users but now we have changed to a female counsellor” said Shasi Kumar Singh, General Secretary of SASO. Following the exchange SASO have also given an extra focus to the needs of pregnant female injecting drug users and their children.

FUNDRAISING FOR INTEGRATED SERVICES

The lessons learnt from NELA’s visit to KANCO on integration and multisectoral approaches has informed NELA’s strategic framework. However to be able to make significant changes, funding is needed so NELA has started fundraising to integrate sexual and reproductive health and TB into its existing HIV/AIDS activities. “If we get funding we will be one step closer to implementing some of the things we learnt during our visit” said Yetunde Alebiosu-Makanjuola of NELA.

TWO-WAY BENEFITS

A learning exchange is not just one way; the hosts also benefit. Liudmyla Shulga of Alliance Ukraine reflected on the visit from SASO, saying: “This visit was useful in terms of discussion of programme activities in both countries that revealed some diversity in the way the HIV prevention is implemented. A lot has to do with the legislation system. At the same time, we were able to find some good examples of providing basic medical help to the clients in community centres. Following this exchange visit and a report produced by the APMG, the Alliance Ukraine revised the concept of community centre work.”

Following the exchanges, two of the Exchange participants have stayed in touch. Via Libre shared research they have done on various topics such as HIV vaccines with IDH, and Alliance India sent Alliance Ukraine research on sexual behaviours of female injecting drugs users contributing to HIV transmission. Alliance India and SASO have also been able to share their learning from the exchange regionally at a UNDP supported workshop on gender sensitive programme for female injecting drug users in India, Bangladesh and Cambodia.

This year, a further ten exchanges are taking place. The Secretariat plans to improve support post-exchange, so that partners can continue to learn from each other after they have returned home. This will help maximise the benefits of the exchanges which have already influenced changes in practice, policy, management and programmes among those who have taken part.

    We were inspired to trial music and dance therapy following the exchange