The Asia-Pacific Regional Coordination Platform on Communities, Rights and Gender (APCRG) 2016 Meeting brought almost fifty community and civil society representatives from across and beyond the region together in Bangkok, Thailand to discuss progress and the future of the regional CRG coordination and communication platform.

The APCRG is one of the six regional communication and coordination platforms under the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund) CRG Special Initiative (CRG SI).

The meeting was convened to provide updates on topline APCRG initiatives, including hermes replica belt
initial results on the CRG TA Needs Assessment conducted by the platform and an on-going CRG-oriented review of selected country Concept Notes. It also aimed to enhance practical and conceptual understanding of key CRG issues in the region, specifically human rights and access to affordable medicines, diagnostics, and vaccines and gender in the context of HIV, TB, and malaria programming.

CRG and the new Global Fund Strategy

The APCRG meeting also provided a platform to look into the recently approved Global Fund Strategy 2017-2022: Investing to End Epidemics, how it relates to the work of the regional platforms, and where CRG is located in the new strategy.

It was noted that the new strategy provides for a broader space for CRG priorities, with strong language and strategies on human rights and gender equality, the incorporation of community systems strengthening as part of building hermes wide enamel bracelet replica
resilient and sustainable systems for health (BRaSSH), and the emphasis on scale-up of evidence-based interventions for key populations and vulnerable communities.

While funding priorities shifted to high-burden, low-income countries, the new strategy means that for middle-income countries in the Asia-Pacific region, there is potential to increase the proportion of resources for key population-oriented funding applications, especially those that are inclusive of CRG-related interventions.

Preliminary findings: CRG TA Needs Assessment and Concept Note Review

APCASO, with the support of APCASO’s focal points and in-country partners and TSF, is conducting a series of assessment workshops on the technical assistance needs of CSOs, community groups, and key population networks in relation to CRG and a review of the CRG content of selected Global Fund Concept Notes from the region. The initial findings of these initiatives include:

  • The importance of sensitizing Global Fund support staff (especially the Country Teams and LFAs) on CRG issues;
  • The need for civil society to be engaged throughout the entire process leading to concept note development (from national strategic plan development or review through community dialogues, including Country Coordination Mechanism engagements), as well as after the approval of the Concept Note;
  • There’s poor understanding of gender and underutilisation of gender analysis tools;
  • Community involvement in the HIV response remains long way ahead hermes birkin bag vis-à-vis the TB and malaria responses.

Gender in the HIV, TB, and Malaria responses

Several knowledge-building sessions were conducted during the APCRG meeting, covering the significance of gender in shaping power relations and understanding sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGIE).

Partners from Global Coalition of TB Activists (GCTA), Malaria Consortium, and SPIRITIA-Indonesia presented the intersectionalities between gender and the HIV, TB, and malaria responses. A basic gender analysis tool was also presented and discussed to identify opportunities for programming for gender needs.

Human Rights, access to medicines and intellectual property rights

Human rights lawyer and IP expert Khajal Barwadi led sessions on intellectual property rights and their impact on the right to health, specifically on access to affordable diagnostics, treatment and vaccines.

The discussions centered on the international legal framework on intellectual property, the the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and how it restricted access to medication.

A panel with partners from GCTA, Asia-Pacific Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (APN+), and the Malaria Regional Artemisinin-resistance Initiative (RAI) provided disease-specific perspectives on how IP rights have affected access to treatment for TB, malaria, hepatitis, and HIV.

Threats to access to medication were explored with discussions focusing on: production of medications; diagnosis costs; catastrophic economic and social costs for people affected by the disease/s; license coverage of medication; and the need to support local production facilities.

The sessions also explored the exemptions for public health in IP rights, called TRIPS flexibilities, that governments can invoke to ensure access to affordable medicines, diagnostics and treatment and to protect the right to health.

However, new free trade agreements and bilateral trade agreements are now threatening to extend the power of patents and patent monopolies. The APCRG meeting provided a platform to discuss how civil society organisations can better address issues of intellectual property and access to medication.

Next steps for APCRG

Most countries in the Asia-Pacific region are early submitters of Concept Notes, so the next batch of funding applications from the region are expected to begin by the end of 2016 to early 2017.

Edwige Fortier, coordinator of the Regional Communications and Coordination Platforms on CRG, presented the CRG Special Initiative and emphasised on an on-going technical support initiative for CSOs, community groups, and key population networks that are keen to engage in the funding application processes. Avenues for external support were discussed which included: Concept note development; program design; and mapping of legal and human rights issues.