In 2022, Moldova became one of the countries that not only accepted but also provided meaningful support to Ukrainian war refugees. At the end of February, humanitarian, social, medical, psychological and integration assistance programmes were swiftly rolled out in the country.
The #SoS_2.0 partners of the Initiative Positiva public association, together with the National HIV and TB Program in Moldova and other partners in the country, have launched a special programme to support Ukrainians who need continued treatment for HIV, TB and hepatitis and their loved ones, HIV and COVID-19 treatment, prevention and testing, humanitarian support as well as psychological support services. The #SoS_2.0 regional project team responded rapidly and redirected emergency resources to support the work of #HelpNowHub Moldova for 3 months until the end of June 2022. Today, the hub continues to operate with the support of the national programme and other donors.
“The Alliance for Public Health was one of the first donors to come to Moldova with the financial resources to support needed new programmes when they were urgently needed, in the early days of Russia’s large-scale war against Ukraine. – said Ina Vutkarev, refugee coordinator at the Initiative Positiva. – From the first days Ukrainians started coming to us and then we just started working, not understanding what would happen next and how long it would last. This is how #HelpNowHub Moldova emerged in the very beginning to provide an emergency response during the first months of the war. Today it is already a multi-functional Positive Initiative refugee service which we set up in response to needs and expanded partnerships within the country. We will help for as long as people need our help.”
Representatives of the Alliance for Public Health visited Chisinau on 16-18 February 2023 to discuss with Moldovan partners the results of their cooperation in supporting refugees from Ukraine and new challenges. They had a series of meetings with partners from the Positive Initiative: management, case managers and social workers, psychologists, as well as visited 2 refugee centres, had the opportunity to observe first-hand the process of service provision and to communicate with Ukrainians, currently residing in these centres.
Also during the visit, Ievgen Kushnir, Senior Programme Manager of the Alliance Public Health met with Ms Angela Kutasevich, Deputy Mayor of Chisinau. They discussed municipal support programmes for refugees from Ukraine and the progress of the Chisinau municipality’s 2022-2025 HIV programme in achieving the 95-95-95 targets for AIDS elimination.
“Moldova’s support for Ukrainians from the first days of the large-scale bloody and brutal military aggression of Russia against Ukraine and the entire civilised world, is invaluable. I am pleased that last spring we were able to quickly find support for the Positive Initiative’s work to create #HelpNowHub to provide specialised care to key populations in the context of HIV and their families,” said Ievgen Kushnir. – Today it is already a multi-functional hub that continues to do its important systemic work. We are very grateful to all partners from Moldova for all that they have done, are doing and will continue to do. Moldova has been our strategic partner in responding to the HIV/AIDS epidemic at the level of the EECA region for many years now, and we will continue to work together.”
It should be noted that the 3-month emergency project to support the work of #HelpNowHub in Moldova included the provision of access to the following services for Ukrainian refugees from key populations:
– psychological, social and humanitarian support;
– Support for continuity of ART, OST, TB and hepatitis treatment;
– HIV, COVID-19, syphilis and hepatitis testing and access to harm reduction services.
During April-June 2022, 795 people in Moldova were tested for HIV, syphilis and hepatitis. 161 people received ARV treatment, 11 received TB treatment, 21 were on opioid substitution therapy and 340 benefited from harm reduction services.