July 28, 2020

5,000 patients received free up-to-date treatment of hepatitis C within the innovative program run by Alliance for Public Health!

In 2015, after many years of preparatory activities, Alliance for Public Health  initiated a free program to treat hepatitis C virus (HCV). A year after, patients representing high-risk populaitons were the first in Ukraine to receive HCV treatment with current direct-acting antivirals (before HCV treatment was based on interferons, with multiple side effects, treatment interruptions and cure rates not exceeding 50%). In 2017, for the first time in our country Alliance initiated HCV screening, testing and treatment services to be provided to the first several dozens of inmates in penal institutions.

HCV treatment success rate in Alliance programs was up to 98%!

In 2019, with support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Alliance procured 3,740 new HCV treatment courses. According to the WHO recommendations, we use generic direct-acting antivirals (DAAs), pangenotypic (universal) treatment regimens and simplified diagnostics approach. Only this year, over one thousand patients successfully completed their treatment, with the adherence to treatment reaching the record level of 99.5%!

Today, our program provides access to HCV treatment to the key population members with HIV/HCV co-infection from all over Ukraine, including temporarily uncontrolled areas as well as inmates in 13 institutions of the State Criminal-Executive Service of Ukraine. Only in 2020, we expanded treatment coverage to include Zakarpattia, Luhansk, Donetsk, Ternopil, Volyn and Chernivtsi regions.

Even with strict restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, project case managers support every client, successfully ensuring uninterrupted therapy and high treatment adherence. The unique experience of preventing reinfections in the time of lockdown and creative approaches to knowledge sharing helped us to develop an awareness-raising brochure, containing answers to the most popular questions, which patients ask when talking to social workers.

In five years of Alliance HCV treatment program implementation:

  • 5,000 patients have received or are currently receiving treatment
  • There was an evolution of treatment from interferon-based to current pangenotypic/universal regimens
  • Treatment and main diagnostics are provided to patients free of charge
  • The procurement cost of direct-acting antivirals (provided to patients free of charge) has been reduced from USD 900 to the lowest price for Ukraine – USD 75 per standard 12-week treatment course
  • A simplified approach to HCV diagnostics has been introduced
  • For the first time, HCV diagnostics is done using GeneXpert systems directly in the treatment facilities of Ukraine
  • For the first time, regional laboratory centers of the Ministry of Health are involved in HCV diagnostics
  • A model has been introduced to educate patients from the key populations on the routes of HCV transmission, safe behavior, prevention of reinfections and its efficiency has been proven
  • A cascade of services is provided by referring prevention program clients with positive results of HCV rapid tests to the treatment program
  • Cascade of services is provided to the patients in the penitentiary system
  • 100% monitoring of treatment quality is implemented
  • For the first time, a study on the rates of HCV reinfection among successfully cured key population members has been carried out
  • Sustainability of the program has been ensured with multiple sources of funding

Today, on the World Hepatitis Day, we would like to sincerely thank doctors, case managers and patients for their commitment and participation in the Alliance treatment program and for their invaluable contribution to elimination of viral hepatitis in Ukraine.

Hepatitis treatment program implemented by Alliance has been included in the Compendium of good practices in the health sector response to viral hepatitis in the WHO European Region.

For reference:

The WHO data show that Ukraine is the only country in the European region, which has been included into the list of 28 countries with the highest hepatitis burden in the world.  It is estimated that up to 5% of people in Ukraine are infected with hepatitis C, which totals one to two million Ukrainian citizens who require treatment. 

The surveillance system existing in Ukraine as well as the limited access to diagnostics and treatment services do not allow getting accurate cumulative data on the burden of this disease. Meanwhile, there number of people who know about their HCV status is dozens times lower: according to the Public Health Center of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, in January 2020 the estimated number of people with HCV in Ukraine was 1,342,418 people. Only 87,269 people receive medical follow-up services (6.5% of the estimated number).

As the disease is often asymptomatic (“silent infection”) and left without treatment, chronic hepatitis C is the main driver of hepatic cirrhosis and primary liver cancer. Peculiarities of the clinical HCV progression lead to its late diagnosis, often at the terminal stages of hepatic disease.

In November 2019, Ukraine joined the Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis by approving the National Strategy on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Hepatitis until 2030. Goals of implementing the National Strategy until 2030:

  • 90% of new viral hepatitis cases will be prevented;
  • 90% of people with viral hepatitis will be diagnosed and will know about their status;
  • up to 90% of patients will receive treatment, which will be effective and will lead to full recovery (for HCV) or effective control of the disease (for HBV). 


Compendium of good practices in the health sector response to viral hepatitis in the WHO European Region

Testing is the only possible way to diagnose viral hepatitis. 

National Viral Hepatitis Hotline: 0-800-50-33-10

Alliance for Public Health

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July 23, 2020

NGOs from EECA countries have stood up to the challenge not only of HIV, but also of the first wave of COVID-19. But that’s not enough

According to the new UNAIDS Global Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic, the world is making significant but dramatically uneven progress, especially in expanding access to antiretroviral therapy. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic also had a significant negative impact on the achievements of the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia in the fight against HIV/AIDS over the 30 years of the epidemic.

According to the report, Eastern Europe and Central Asia remain one of three regions where the HIV epidemic continues to grow. Therefore, there is an urgent need to scale up HIV services, especially in the Russian Federation.

The report also highlights a large gap between HIV testing and treatment initiation. Only 63%* of people living with HIV who know their HIV-positive status in the region are being treated. And only 41%* of all people living with HIV in the region have suppressed viral load.

The “Seize the Moment” report warns that the HIV response could be slowed down for another 10 years or more if the COVID-19 pandemic seriously disrupts HIV services.

“We cannot say that COVID-19 has become a calm time for the workers of nongovernmental organizations that provide HIV services. On the contrary, the coronavirus has thrown sharper light on health issues in society, and the current period should definitely be a time to take action. Enhanced action in response to HIV. We must work faster, better, and, obviously, for less money, – says Tetiana Deshko, Director of the International Programs Department of the ICF “Alliance for Public Health”, says, – I am sure it is high time to mobilize in order to achieve the key global community goals on AIDS”.

The UNAIDS Global Report emphasizes that it is important for countries to double efforts and act urgently to reach the millions of people still left behind. At the same time, it is worth paying attention to the catalytic regional NGOs that promptly adapted their work in the EECA region in the context of a double challenge to maintain the sustainability of the services provided for people from key populations who badly needed it from the very onset of the coronavirus crisis.

“It is infinitely gratifying that civil society organizations were able not only to continue their work to combat HIV infection, to make the situation safer in order to reduce the risks of COVID-19, but their responses also became responses to the new COVID-19 challenges”, Mrs. Deshko says.

The Alliance for Public Health, UNAIDS and the Asian Association of People Living with HIV have started collecting stories of vibrant, decisive action taken by nongovernmental and government organizations in the EECA region. Today, nearly 60 stories from around the world illustrate this critical work on the interactive online Community Initiatives Map. Any organization or initiative group can send their story, just filling out the form on the website.

Tetiana Deshko also noted that after analyzing the work performed under a double challenge, the Alliance for Public Health team saw that COVID-19 not just complicated the work, but the crisis made them focus on the clearest, most systemic methods of providing HIV care.

 “We found out that there are a number of HIV service recommendations following COVID-19, and we should adhere to them after the peak of the pandemic. In particular, we saw that distribution of substitution therapy drugs for injecting drug users, who account for almost half of new HIV cases in our region, was provided at home for long periods, which could both reduce the cost of providing this service and make it more patient-oriented”, Tatyana said. “We saw that distributing the sufficient number of consumables — including syringes, condoms, and tests, for longer periods also helped people to stock up on consumables and practice safer behavior”.

Online work becomes crucial throughout the world. Online counseling on safe behavior, response to crisis situations, introduction of the practice of using test vending machines, syringe vending machines, dispensing antiretroviral medications for a longer period, sending medicines by mail are crucial. According to Tatyana Deshko, all these steps enabled implementing HIV services and reduce the risk of COVID-19. “We must continue them in the future”, she emphasized.

“We tried to monitor the human rights situation using a special database – an online system for documenting, online monitoring and immediate response to violations of the rights of key groups and HIV-positive people (REAct). We worked in 5 countries: Ukraine, Tajikistan, Georgia, Moldova and Kyrgyzstan, where we observed the situation with the rights of key populations. Unfortunately, we have noted many cases of violation of these rights, while more than a hundred cases of violation of rights were recorded in the first 6 months”.

The situation is different in these countries, but it is still the law enforcement agencies who are responsible for the most cases of the key population rights violations, Ms. Deshko notes. The health officials keep the second place. Key populations, people living with HIV, often face cases of humiliation or violence. This is the analysis that is very clearly outlined in the UNAIDS report, showing that the issue of respect for the human rights of key populations is one of the main obstacles in the response to the HIV and COVID-19 epidemic.

We contacted experts from Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Ukraine, the leaders of NGOs or projects who have recovered from coronavirus infection and asked what needs to be done so that people could cope with HIV and COVID-19. And that’s what they answered.

Aybar Sultangaziev, Chairman of the Partnership Network Association (Kyrgyzstan): “The catastrophic unpreparedness of healthcare systems, lack of supplies of medicines and medical equipment lead to high mortality and disability of the population due to COVID-19. This is happening against the background of hugely inflated public procurement prices, limited funding and a complete lack of forecasts of the situation development. All this is forcing civil society to take the initiative and, in fact, stand up against the storm of the epidemic. Studying the world experience in treatment and the subsequent promotion of improvement of treatment regimens also apparently concerns only the civil sector, while meeting resistance from conservative specialists”.

Yevgeniy Aleksandrovich Goloshchapov, Director of the Advocacy Department, CSO “Positive Initiative” (Moldova): “We have identified two threats: due to problems with supplies, medicines stocks may run out and people will have no treatment, and due to the economic crisis, it is possible that tomorrow there will be no funds to buy medicines. In this situation, NGOs need to develop broad partnerships to ensure continuous access to treatment, as well as for transparency and efficiency in the use of resources“.

Nataliya Nesvat, Chair of the Board of CO “100% Life” branch in Cherkassy (Ukraine): “In parallel with COVID-19, HIV and TB epidemics continue to grow, and in this situation the role of strong NGOs and communities is more important than ever. After all, it is the people affected by HIV and TB who are trapped in the cut-off from necessary services: diagnostics, hospitalization, timely receiving of HIV medications, other medicines and food. But, along with this, NGO workers, more than anyone else, must understand their full responsibility and adhere to all precautions to minimize the risk of COVID-19 infection. Otherwise, access to vital services and, possibly, to the last hope will be lost”.

July 13, 2020

All-Ukrainian competition for the media “Drug policy of Ukraine in the age of coronavirus: problems and solutions”

The International Charitable Foundation “Alliance for Public Health” invites the journalists of national and regional mass media to take part in the All-Ukrainian contest on the actual drug policy mainstreaming in Ukraine. The application can be submitted by the authors who have published (or broadcasted) their texts/stories from January 1st to November 13th, 2020.

This event aims to raise public awareness and informedness of modern methods of drug abuse prevention and treatment, in particular to emphasize the expansion of substitution maintenance therapy network, increase access to the state program on HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, tuberculosis for drug addicts.

Besides, the competition should help to reform Ukraine’s repressive drug policy and decriminalize drug addicts. This is important to show by the example of developed countries, where the work of the law enforcement system is focused on combating organized drug trafficking.

The competent jury will determine one winner in the categories of “Television and Radio”, “Printed Press”, “Online Press”, “Blogging”. The authors of the best materials will receive diplomas and financial incentives. The winner in each category will receive a cash prize of UAH 5,000. The competition also provides for individual awards, for example, for a series of materials or the creation of a special project on the theme of the competition.

Requirements for competitive works:

  • Materials can be prepared in any language of national minorities with a translation into Ukrainian or Russian.
  • Publications should focus on Ukrainian realities and world best practices, demonstrate the real state of affairs and offer solutions to the problems of drug addicts.
  • Preference will be given to publications that focus on expanding access to SMT and promoting the decriminalization of drug addicts with a focus on combating the organized drug trafficking by the law enforcement system, raising issues of stigma and discrimination.
  • Also, publications may include the issue of adolescent drug addiction and the rapid change of the drug scene from opioid drugs to synthetic psychotropic substances, the lack of appropriate government rehabilitation programs.
  • Texts provided by the media representatives must be original and free of plagiarism.
  • To participate in the contest, you must enter information about the posted material in the registration form at the link: https://forms.gle/QxAmGd6KSpup8vxZA

The deadline for submission of materials is November 13th, 2020 (6 p.m).

The winners of the competition will be chosen by an independent jury, which will include representatives of the ICF “Alliance for Public Health”, partner organizations, winners of past competitions.

The best materials will be published on the information resources of the ICF “Alliance for Public Health”, so when submitting an application for the competition, the authors automatically allow such publications.

All-Ukrainian competition for the media “Drug policy of Ukraine in the age of coronavirus: problems and solutions” is part of the projects “The Partnership to Inspire, Transform and Connect the HIV response” (PITCH) and “Accelerating progress in reducing the burden of tuberculosis and HIV infection by providing universal access to timely and quality diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis, expanding evidence-based prevention, diagnosis and treatment of HIV, creating viable and stable health systems” (implemented with the support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria).

June 26, 2020

Every ninth prisoner in Ukraine serves a sentence for drug possession.

June 26 is the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture 

Every 11th convicted person in Ukraine punished for the violations, which in most democratic countries are not considered to be criminal offences!

Today Ukraine, along with 90 other countries of the world, traditionally joins the global Support. Don’t Punish campaign calling for humane drug policies!

Alliance for Public Health first initiated this campaign in Ukraine back in 2013, and today we keep up the tradition to draw the attention of decision-makers, national media and all responsible citizens to the inadequate repressive state policies affecting hundreds of thousands of drug-dependent Ukrainians. As the recent expert estimates show, in the government-controlled territories of Ukraine there are about 317,000 people who inject drugs, most of whom have chronic drug dependence. Only 13,000 (4%) of those people have access to free treatment in government-supported opioid substitution treatment programs, which allows them to break the vicious criminal circle related to their daily need to get illegal drugs.

Today: every ninth prisoner in Ukraine serves a sentence for drug possession.

Every year, about 10,000 people in Ukraine are convicted for drug-related crimes (in 2019 – 9,600 people). In the recent three years, there has been a stable trend: at least 83% of people convicted for drug-related crimes serve their sentences for illegal drug possession without intent to sell (art. 309 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine). In 2019, 8,000 people were convicted for such crimes, i.e. every 9th of 70.3 thousand people convicted in Ukraine. However, many people do not know that every 11th person convicted for such crimes in Ukraine (in 2019 – 6.2 thousand) serves a sentence for the acts, which are not even considered criminal offences in most civilized democratic countries (Criminal Code of Ukraine, art. 309, part 1) because the “threshold amounts” of most widely used illegal drugs approved with the Order of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine No. 188 (2000) are 200-600 times lower (!) than in the countries of the European Union, which Ukraine has been trying to become part of for so many years! Even such unfriendly and undemocratic country as Russia has in 100 times (!) less repressive “threshold mounts” for most widespread drugs.


Tomorrow: 30-time increase of the fines for drugs possession!

Our government decided to “decriminalize” or rather “depenalize” drug-dependent citizens starting from 1 July 2020, but in a very particular way!

In five days, Ukraine is going to enforce new legislation (Law N 2617-VIII dd. 22.11.2018), according to which illegal possession of drugs will be considered not a “criminal offence”, but a “misdemeanor”. It sounds not bad, but… With such change of terminology, the minimum fine for part 1 art. 309 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine will grow 20 times (from UAH 850 to UAH 17,000 – USD630) and the maximum fine will growing 30 times (from UAH 1,700 to UAH 51,000 – USD1900)!

Considering the lack of proper access of drug users to treatment and rehabilitation and realizing that people with chronic illness depend on illegal psychoactive substances every day, it may seem that in such a way the government decided to “earn some money”, i.e. fill the national budget with the growing proceeds from the boosted fines “imposed” on over 300,000 of drug dependent people in Ukraine. Of course, if every one of those people pays the maximum fine at least once a year, the state can earn about 15 billion UAH!  However, both experts and family members of drug users understand that this is not how it works. Those people have long ago taken all the money from their homes to pay drug dealers and to bribe corrupted police officers. Indeed, today “drug corruption” is one of the most developed illicit enrichment schemes for numerous organized groups of “turncoats”, who recently have been regularly exposed by the State Bureau of Investigations, the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Security Service of Ukraine and the National Police. On the one hand, corrupted law enforcers traditionally “protect” organized drug business, on the other hand – they set up ordinary drug users using their own criminal schemes to extort money from them or their relatives for avoiding criminal responsibility. What will such “characters” do after there is a 30-time increase in the official “fines”?! Unfortunately, that is a rhetorical question! It is indirectly confirmed by the stable annual decrease in the number of convicted drug dealers with an increase in the number of drug users convicted for drug possession (see the diagram above).

Meanwhile, despite all the statements of the progressive Minister of Justice, Ukrainian prisons will continue to serve as the “training center” of organized crime and an incubator of infectious diseases because the usual prisoners are ordinary drug-dependent people, who have not been given any other options by the state apart from punishment!

Decriminalization of drug users is inevitable… in a democratic state!

Last week, there was a meeting of the new members of the Inter-ministerial Working Group to Revise Legislation on Narcotic Drugs under the Ministry of Health of Ukraine. One of the unanimous resolutions was the decision to revise the “threshold amounts of drugs” (Order of the Ministry of Health N 188/2000), which is now the key reason of the inadequately high level of artificial criminalization of drug users in Ukraine. However, we need to keep in mind that in the past such intentions were declared and even started to be implemented as draft regulations on numerous occasions. But without the decision-makers clearly understanding the existing situation and without the political will of high-level officials, Ukraine will not break this “vicious circle” and the number of issues related to drug use will only be growing.

The global Support. Don’t Punish campaign is called to draw public attention to such challenges and demonstrate the serious harms caused by the senseless “War on Drugs. The campaign calls to implement drug policies, which are based on human rights, protect health and reduce the risks related to drug use.                  

June 04, 2020

Alliance delivered a large consignment of personal protection equipment to penal institutions

In the challenging context of COVID-19 pandemic, Alliance for Public Health together with its partners continues efficiently responding to the needs of the vulnerable populations. In particular, urgent procurement was organized to provide all the implementing partners facing the highest risks as they continue to provide services to the key populations with the basic personal protection equipment (PPE). At the request of the State Penitentiary Service of Ukraine, such equipment was provided to the staff members of penal institutions and to the inmates who continue receiving opioid substitution treatment and hepatitis C therapy during the pandemic. Despite the shortage of PPE in the country, the need to comply with all the procurement procedures while many engaged institutions and organizations work remotely, we were able to respond to this vital request of our partners quickly and efficiently!

Currently, institutions of the State Penitentiary Service of Ukraine have been provided with the following PPE:

– Alcohol wipes (70%, 30Х65 mm) – 500 thousand;

– Non-sterile medical nitrile gloves (IGAR 7-8) – 5.6 thousand;

– Antibacterial fluid for hands disinfection (100, 150 and 500 ml – 578 bottles, 75 liters in total)

– EconormDEZ Classic disinfectant (1,000 ml) – 10 bottles;

– Disposable protective face masks – 51 thousand.

The total cost of the PPE delivered is UAH 981,000.

In 2019, Alliance with support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and other international partners contributed to the launch of the first pilot OST site in the penitentiary system of Ukraine. Currently, about 20 inmates receive OST services at this site. Besides, Alliance has been supporting a hepatitis C treatment program in penal institutions since 2018. In 2017, Alliance with the Global Fund support initiated comprehensive activities aimed at hepatitis C screening, diagnostics and treatment in the health facilities of the State Penitentiary Service. In 2020, Alliance provides hepatitis C diagnostics and treatment services to 350 inmates and other detainees with HIV/HCV co-infection. In addition, 250 people who receive treatment courses provided by the State Penitentiary Service of Ukraine, are provided with hepatitis C diagnostic services before treatment initiation and 12 weeks after treatment completion to assess the efficiency of antiviral treatment.

Besides, in the nearest future Alliance will provide the State Penitentiary Service of Ukraine with 3,000 rapid tests for hepatitis C screening among prison staff and inmates. The Alliance team highly appreciates its longstanding partnership with the Health Center of the State Penitentiary Service of Ukraine and would like to extend its gratitude to its representatives for their constructive approach and constant support.

May 14, 2020

Practical Recommendations to reshape a sustainable response to HIV/TB/HCV in the EECA countries within Covid-19 context

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, health systems around the world have to become more robust, flexible, and results-oriented.

Changes have been made in the approach that some health systems have taken to the delivery of a range of services, including interventions for the management of HIV and opioid dependence as well as the treatment of tuberculosis (TB) and viral hepatitis C (HCV) among key population groups. Many of these changes have been welcomed by communities, with a window of opportunity to revisit and refresh issues of drug use regulations, policing, amnesty for people in prisons and other closed settings.

In early May 2020, a LIVE discussion was held on Youtube (in English) and simultaneously on Facebook (in Russian) by the Sustainability of Services (SoS) Project of the Alliance for Public Health (APH) funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, that brought together experts to consider opportunities to improve the sustainability of HIV programmes for key populations in 14 countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) as a result of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Presenters included Volodymyr Kurpita, a regional expert on public health and HIV/AIDS based in Ukraine; Fifa Rahman, a specialist in International Trade/Intellectual Property Law and a UNITAID Board Member for NGOs; Anton Basenko, a regional expert on drug policy, community, gender and human rights with the Alliance for Public Health; and Niamh Eastwood, the Executive Director of Release, the British centre of expertise on drugs and drug law; the session was moderated by Andriy Klepikov, the Executive Director of the Alliance for Public Health and a member of the Glob- al Fund Board for the Developing Countries NGO Delegation.

The online event considered which developments should be retained and promoted as countries pass through the peak of the epidemic and grow accustomed to the presence of the virus at a more manageable level. Specifically, how recent actions at global and national levels in response to COVID-19 have provided opportunities to increase access to medicines and services, the role of human rights within health systems, and how to build upon the newly emerging good practices.

April 28, 2020

COVID19 lessons: what can make the HIV programs in the EECA countries more sustainable? (LIVE discussion)

On May 5, 2020, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. EST (UTC+3), a special LIVE discussion will be held on opportunities to improve the sustainability of national HIV programs that have emerged in connection with COVID-19.

Obviously, some of the changes brought forth by COVID-19 (simplification of patent regulations, modification of client program management and the use of online formats, simplification of drug users policing, amnesty for drug users in some countries) should continue after COVID-19, furthermore, they will significantly increase the sustainability of HIV programs in the future.

Organizers: Alliance for Public Health and #SoS_project team.

“We invited international experts and created the agenda that would be of interest to the coordinators and leaders of civil society health organizations, as well as the public sector”, the organizers said.

The LIVE discussion will present international experience, simple and understandable recommendations that will help countries adapt to the situation and increase the sustainability of HIV programs.

Focus: on the new opportunities to boost sustainability, not on reporting the problems!

Broadcast speakers:

  1. Fifa Rahman (Malaysia/UK), LLB(Hons), MHL (Health Law) (Sydney), PhD Candidate, International Trade/Intellectual Property Law, University of Leeds, Board Member for NGOs, Unitaid

Topic: Simplification of access to medicines and diagnostics

  1. Anton Basenko (Ukraine), expert on drug policy, community, gender and human rights, Alliance for Public Health

Topic: Simplification of services provision models for vulnerable groups in the region – which of the improved practices should be maintained after COVID-19

  1. Niamh Eastwood (UK), Executive Director of the Release – the British center of expertise on drugs and drugs law

Topic: Decriminalization of drug use for personal purposes and amnesty for the convicts

  1. Volodymyr Kurpita (Ukraine), expert on public health and HIV/AIDS

Topic: Changes to be made in the healthcare system: COVID19 lessons for HIV sustainability

Moderator: Andriy Klepikov, Executive Director of the Alliance for Public Health, Global Fund To Fight AIDS, TB & Malaria Member of the Board form the Developing Countries NGO Delegation.

Speakers will tell in detail what can be simplified, optimized, improved in the existing healthcare systems in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic impact, so that countries become more efficient and better prepared for similar challenges in the future.

In the framework of the special broadcast, the experts will present their arguments for the sustainability of HIV programs based on the COVID-19 lessons in terms of such aspects, as:

  1. Access to HIV medicines and diagnostics,
  2. HIV services for key populations,
  3. Drug policy,
  4. Strengthening of the national health systems.

The broadcast will be in English with simultaneous interpretation into Russian.

You can watch live discussion on the website below or through social media: Facebook (ru) and Youtube (eng).


Watch online broadcast in ENG

Start: On May 5, 2020, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. EST (UTC+3)


Watch online broadcast in Russian  https://bit.ly/2Yxazk3 (or below)

Start: On May 5, 2020, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. EST (UTC+3)

#COVID19 vs #HIV: присоединяйтесь к эфиру 5 мая в 11:00!Мы пригласили международных экспертов и создали программу,…

Опубліковано Альянс громадського здоров'я Alliance for Public Health Вівторок, 28 квітня 2020 р.

April 24, 2020

How to Ensure Sustainable Work of Human Rights Protection Projects in new COVID-19 Reality

Lessons from REAct implementing countries within SoS_project.

As for now, the countries where we currently operate are not the ones most severely affected by COVID-19. However, states have already started to apply prevention measures in different ways: from state of emergency in Georgia, night curfew in Kyrgyzstan to the absence of any restrictions in Tajikistan so far.

СCovid-19 statistics by country as for 22/04/2020 (WHO)

Country Confirmed cases New cases Deaths
Georgia 408 9 4
Kyrgyzstan 590 22 7
Moldova 2548 76 70
Tajikistan 0 0 0

Human rights is the second (after public health care) issue we have to keep an eye on, when preparing for potential pandemic crisis, as they are most likely to be sacrificed by the states trying to stay in control over the situation. This article aims to share lessons and ideas, gained by REAct communities and NGOs to ensure sustainable and effective work of the human rights organizations during lockdown.

1. Care about REActors’, outreach-, social-workers’ safety first

  • inform your team members about the COVID-19 prevention measures
  • provide REActors with basic protection materials (masks, gloves, antiseptics)
  • reorganize the way your NGO provides services (remote, online work, permanent shift groups, home delivery)
  • disinfect regularly the office and the distribution sites.

Human rights protection services should not be stopped due to the lockdown. Legal and psychological support, as well as health care, prevention and harm reduction services must meet people “where they are”. Currently outreach workers are at the same level of risk as primary health care employees, as they have to keep contacting clients and meeting them outside. Their safety is our number one priority.

In Tajikistan, there are no officially registered COVID-19 cases yet and the government did not impose any quarantine restrictions. Anyway, NGOs and service organizations take all the necessary measures to prevent virus spreading: interviews with victims of HR violations are held remotely and there is mandatory moping and sanitization of the meeting room after each session.

In Georgia service (as well as human rights protection) organizations continue working to ensure sustainable assistance for the clients. It was decided to optimize working hours and divide employees into several permanent shift groups. So that, in case one person gets infected, only one group (this person was working in) will go on quarantine, but other groups will continue working.

2. Ensure sustainable channels of communication to reach clients out and to be reached by them, in case their rights are violated

  • establish 24h crisis hotline
  • disseminate business cards with emergency phone numbers
  • collaborate with governmental COVID-19 hotline or crisis center
  • look for the new ways of communication (social networks, for example)

As clients are locked in their homes we barely can know what is happening to them, moreover we barely will find out if something bad does happen. Now it is time to build new channels of communication to replace face-to-face talk. NGOs can create an emergency 24h hotline, so clients will be able to inform us if their rights are violated or any help is needed.

In Moldova, our partners have contacted the Non-Governmental COVID-19 Crisis Hotline and have asked to inform them immediately if there is an appeal from key groups or PLHIV. So if this happens, the comprehensive, two-sided response can be provided to the victim (key group representative).

Georgia due to lockdown started to search for KPs’ human rights violations on Facebook. REActors monitor Facebook groups, where sex workers and drug users, LGBTQs communicate, share information and seek help, when their rights are violated. Additionally, REActors track hate speech posts and contact the victim in direct to provide psychological support and legal protection if needed.

For the next deliveries of ARV treatment to clients’ homes, in several countries it is planned to disseminate brochures to inform beneficiaries about their rights during COVID-19 lockdown, as well as to present emergency phone number cards. This small piece of paper can bring the “I-am-in-safety” feeling and serve as a life-jacket stored under the seat, as emergency situations, new lockdown rules cause anxiety, fear and uncertainty, especially for those who are the most vulnerable and unprotected.

3. Inform clients about COVID-19 prevention measures and quarantining restrictions

  • keep clients updated
  • disseminate brochures with accurate information written the language that is understood by beneficiaries

Our partners together with UNODC Moldova distributed COVID-19 prevention brochures amount prisoners and people in detention. In Georgia the same kind of brochures were disseminated amount drug users. Five international recommendations brochures were translated into Georgian for common and overall use by NGOs.


4. Inform clients about their rights and potential HR violations in COVID-19 environment

5. Monitor the situation, collect and share information

  • Hold regular and frequent online-meetings/calls with your community members, partners to receive and share information
  • Call/message your clients to find out about their current livelihood, health, conditions
  • Exchange information and notify other civil society stakeholders.

In Kyrgyzstan, the national REAct coordinator holds everyday phone status update calls with 8 REActors, who stay at home due to lockdown and do not have access to the Internet. These REActors keep on consulting beneficiaries on human rights by phone, as well as continue reporting by phone about the number of cases.

Due to the recent information about increasing domestic violence in Kyrgyzstan4, national coordinator works on building sustainable connections with domestic violence hotlines and with other organizations, which work generally on women human rights protection not focusing on HIV-positive, sex workers or female drug users, to be informed if KP women contact them about domestic violence..


By Victoria Kalyniuk, Regional REAct Coordinator


  1. https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/COVID19Guidance.aspx
  2. https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/03/19/human-rights-dimensions-covid-19-response
  3. https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/COVID19Guidance.aspx
  4. https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/04/08/women-risk-domestic-violence-during-kyrgyzstans-lockdown