Haiti: capacity building as a driver for change in HIV prevention 

By: Keren Dunaway

To encourage, support and concretize effective Haitian community participation and representation in the HIV, TB and malaria response in preparation for the seventh round of Global Fund financing, the Organization for Development and the Fight Against Poverty (ODELPA) submitted a Technical Assistance (TA) application. This request involved civil society organization (CSO) leaders in ten sectors, ranging from people affected by malaria and tuberculosis to local NGOs and faith-based organizations. Following a comprehensive desk review that outlined Haiti’s critical conditions of poverty, violence, human rights violations, stigma and discrimination, two core activities were conducted in February and March 2023: a needs identification workshop and a prioritization workshop. 

Dr. Fleurimonde Charles Joseph, ICASO consultant, highlighted the active participation of civil society and the effectiveness of the methodology used. During the consultations, training needs in project management were identified, with proposals to train members on issues such as community involvement in the quality of services, a demand of the Global Fund for TB and malaria. Dr. Charles emphasized the increased capacity building during the process and highlighted that the methodology allowed each association to make its diagnosis: 

“The increase in capacity building during the process stands out; it was identified that it was a highly participatory process, and that the methodology allows each association to carry out the diagnosis of its group, thus identifying needs and proposing solutions to the problems that they themselves identified.” 

In terms of community representation, the importance of including diverse groups such as people with reduced mobility, informal vendors and athletes was highlighted. However, Dr. Charles noted the lack of follow-up in the participation of these groups in CCM meetings, focusing attention on the need for greater engagement and follow-up to ensure continued and effective representation: 

“In addition, they were involved in all stages of the process, they took the time to explain the axes of the Global Fund and the why they prioritized their needs. Because they were involved in the whole process, they were able to increase training, doing the analysis on their own. And with this diagnosis they made we supported them to identify solutions.” 

Haitian civil society plays a crucial role in HIV prevention, ensuring access to care for key populations. Among the priorities identified is capacity building, advocating for the integration of CSOs into national HIV programs and equipping them with the necessary skills. Also highlighted is the creation of safe spaces for key populations experiencing discrimination and violence, essential to ensure their well-being and access to essential services. Prevention strategies include condom and lubricant distribution, PrEP promotion, and HIV and STI awareness-raising through various channels.  

CSOs emphasize ensuring access to essential health services, expanding STI testing and treatment, and providing psychological support to survivors of violence. Close collaboration with government entities, care providers and international organizations is essential for a comprehensive and effective response to HIV in Haiti. This commitment and collaborative effort by Haitian CSOs aim to build an effective response to HIV by addressing the social and health complexities in the country.