The meeting was hosted by LEPRA, an Alliance linking organisation with programmes across the Eastern coast of India, including the state of Orissa. Participants came from Alliance linking organisations, prospective linking organisations, country offices, regional technical support hubs, and the Alliance Secretariat.
TACKLING HIV, TB & SRH TOGETHER
Ms Meena Gupta, Chair of LEPRA and former Health Secretary of Orissa, opened the meeting and introduced this years theme: Implementing the new Alliance Strategy 2010-2012: HIV and Healthy Communities, with a specific focus on integrated HIV and sexual and reproductive health (SRH), and HIV/TB programming.
Alliance linking organisations with expertise in these areas presented case studies, and partners took the opportunity to discuss the issues, challenges and next steps. Hotly debated issues included how to increase effective national-level advocacy and getting community voices on HIV, TB & SRH heard; and value for money in programming.
AT THE HEART OF IT
Participants spent a day visiting community-based projects. The project sites were spread across the city of Bhubaneswar and included the LEPRA supported STD clinic at Capital Hospital, and community groups at the heart of the slum areas, including a Hijra support group for sexual minorities, a drop-in counselling centre, and a Health Resource Centre with a mobile SRH clinic.
Bobby Ramakant from Citizen News shared the following impression:
“This was my second Blue Sky Week experience, and I’m glad to see the mandate for collaborative activities between TB/HIV and SRH/HIV was so pronounced . . .
not only from those coming from the Secretariat, but also from Alliance linking organisations, many of whom were already doing collaborative activities on TB/HIV, and SRH/HIV. This is undoubtedly a healthy development and will improve programme performance on the ground”.