Learning exchange visit to Ukraine

Starting from June 4 till June 7, 2013 International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine (Alliance Ukraine) and Regional Technical Support Hub for Eastern Europe and Central Asia (Kiev TS Hub) hosted representatives from International HIV/AIDS Alliance and Kenya AIDS NGOs Consortium (KANCO) who came to Kyiv to learn about the work of the Alliance Ukraine.  The participants of the visit learnt about HIV/AIDS prevention programmes run by the Alliance Ukraine and visited local organisations implementing harm reduction projects in Kyiv oblast.

During the first day of the visit the guests attended NGO “Convictus” to see peer driven intervention, case management project and  went for a night outreach together with the organisation “Club Eney” to observe the work of a mobile ambulance run by this NGO.  The mobile ambulance helps to increase access to people who use drugs and sex workers not only to basic harm reduction services, but also to HIV and STI testing and treatment.

The next days were devoted to the introduction of integrated harm reduction services such as substitution therapy and anti-retroviral therapy together with psycho-social support from NGO. The guests learnt about a pilot case management intervention improving access to people who use drugs to ART and visited TB dispensary in a small town of Kyiv region providing harm reduction services to their patients. They also attended a pharmacy providing needles and syringes to people who use drugs (the project is run by NGO “Nika Kiev”) and community centre for men who have sex with men (MSM) and saw street outreach services providing to MSM by NGO “Gay Alliance”.

Communication with Alliance Ukraine staff helped to understand systems of monitoring and evaluation, technical support provision, procurement and supply management and overall programming in Ukraine. Though 4-days visit is not sufficient to see all best practices implementing under support of International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine, but it was a good overview which opened opportunities for further cooperation between the countries.

Anamaria Bejar, Associate Director: Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean of International HIV/AIDS Alliances reflected on the visit: “It was fascinating for me to learn about the challenging context of your national health system and the new developments of the Ukrainian CDC and how you have found ways to make sure key populations receive the services they deserve. This was a dimension new to me which made me value your work even more. Definitely you have a great opportunity with the current health care reform in Ukraine. I also hope that the international community finds ways of supporting people who are injecting substances as stimulants which seem to be a constant worry in the heads of the people we talked to.”