OVER the course of the last month, Nacosa have been conducting and facilitating Consultative Forum meetings (CFMs) throughout the Eastern Cape, including the Buffalo City district.
Dedicated to “turning the tide on HIV/AIDS and TB, Nacosa is a principal recipient of the Global Fund.
Nacosa acts as a grant managing as well as networking organisation, ensuring the funds are received by the right sub-recipients or local organisations who are dedicated and willing to implement projects that serve to fight HIV/AIDS and TB.
To this regard, these CFMs, conducted in partnership with Anova Health, Social Health and Empowerment feminist collective of transgender and intersex women of Africa (S.H.E.) and Sex Workers Education & Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT), served to promote dialogue and sensitize organisations to the plights of key populations.
The term key populations refers to groups of people who are most at risk of catching and transmitting HIV, STIs and TB.
This includes sex workers and individuals who identify as LGTBQI among other vulnerable, at-risk and priority populations.
Nacosa invited various members of these key populations to share their stories and experiences with community based organisations, municipal departments and non-government organisations present within the communities in each of the Eastern Cape’s eight districts.
“The meetings were very powerful. We had individuals who were transgender, sex workers, gay men and lesbians share their trials and tribulations,” said grants/provincial liaison officer at Nacosa, Nosipiwo Mpho Mtebese.
“We wanted to expose various organisations to the different people in their community and attempt to fight the stigma and discrimination many individuals face,” she said.
Throughout the CFMs various issues were raised, among the most prominent was the fact that more often than not, organisations do not cater to people who are different and communities are fraught with discrimination.
This makes it difficult for various individuals who form part of key populations to have access to the healthcare they need.
“Many speakers indicated that healthcare workers treat them badly because they are different. It was very touching, because we heard real testimonies and uncovered the core issues that add to the vulnerability of Key populations,” said Eastern Cape Provincial manager for Nacosa , Sydney Davis.
Through the CFMs, Nacosa has challenged organisations to advocate for key populations at a community level within their programmes.
Some districts have also requested that Nacosa includes church leaders and political representatives in the CFMs so that there is a collective advocacy for key populations at a community level.
“Many attendees have shared that after the previous CFMs they went back to their organizations and engaged with relevant bodies and aligned their objectives and programmes with the new National Strategic Plan for (NSP. 2017-2022),” said Mtebese.
The new NSP has adopted a “focus for impact’ approach. This will see an intensified focus on districts with high burdens of HIV, STIs and TB and calls for tailoring interventions for adolescent girls and young women and the key and vulnerable populations.
“Once organisations are on board with the NSP, it will ensure that nobody is neglected, discriminated against or deprived of the healthcare they need,” said Davis.
Nacosa will be conducting another set of CFMs in all eight Dictricts in the Eastern Cape over the next two months. These meetings will address key populations feedback and the new NSP in detail.