Ensuring the continuity of HIV care in the MENA region
Solidarité Sida, ITPC-MENA, and five partner associations launched the FORSS Program (Train, monitor, support: community mobilization for the fight against HIV in the MENA region) in 2018 with the support of L’Initiative. The objective: to improve prevention, care, and access to treatment in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Mauritania, and Tunisia. The project set up a community observatory in each country and influences national and international strategies through advocacy actions.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, the main concern was to maintain access to community services in operation, all the while ensuring safety for all. Some activities were reprogrammed as a matter of urgency, and L’Initiative released €229,286 of additional funding. Food aid and hygiene kits were quickly delivered to 2,714 beneficiaries in five countries. The partner association teams received protective equipment against COVID-19 and developed contingency plans to ensure continuity of services despite the difficult context. Since then, Solidarité Sida launched a study to evaluate the effects of COVID-19 on access to health care for persons living with HIV and key populations in the project’s five countries.
Supported by L’Initiative since 2019, the “Access to quality health services for key populations” project, led by the NGO SOS Pairs Éducateurs, aims at improving the HIV testing offer in Mauritania by strengthening the capacities of ten civil society organizations. From the early stages of the health crisis, curfew and measures to restrict non-essential activities have led to a drastic decrease in the activities deployed by these organizations, thus further weakening and isolating key populations. In response, SOS Pairs Éducateurs implemented an emergency strategy, supported by L’Initiative. The objective: ensure continuity of care and meet the needs of the most vulnerable persons in basic hygiene and food. Thanks to reprogramming of certain activities involving €34,349, food and hygiene kits were distributed to more than 200 people. The NGO was also supported by Coalition PLUS, a global network of community organizations and itself a beneficiary of additional funding from L’Initiative, to contribute to the continuity of care in Mauritania.
Founded in 1999 in Nouakchott to fight AIDS, SOS Pairs Educateurs has become a reference association in Mauritania. It provides community-based testing and care for populations vulnerable to HIV in areas where health services are lacking. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, it has managed to secure and even diversify its funding. SOS Pairs Educateurs is now a credible and reliable civil society organization that cannot be ignored by technical and financial partners, not only national but also international.
For its director Djibril Sy, this new development began in 2014 when the association joined the MENA Platform of Coalition PLUS, led from Morocco by ALCS, a pioneer in the fight against AIDS in the region and a founding member of Coalition PLUS. It is within this unique cooperation framework, actively supported by the Initiative through the project "Access to quality health services for key populations" that SOS Pairs Educateurs has benefited from a series of technical supports over more than 5 years. The association has been transformed from the inside out and has succeeded in changing the lives of thousands of Mauritanians.