Over the last few months, some of TBEC’s partners have been forming the Southern and East Europe Regional HIV and TB Community (SEE RCN). The formal launch for the network and its first meeting were held in In Podgorica, Montenegro in September 2019.
The SEE RCN is been established in response to growing challenges facing countries in the region regarding the situation post-transition from the support of Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in numerous countries of this region. For example, there are very significant challenges in Bosnia and Herzegovina in terms of the response to HIV, which is currently characterized by the nearly complete absence of the HIV prevention services for the Key Affected Populations, including the on-site testing of the KAPs, harm reduction services, support to PLHIV, etc. Romania, Bulgaria, Albania are also facing some of these challenges and other countries may experience similar challenges in the future.
The Southern and East Europe Regional HIV and TB Community (SEE RCN) network brings together leading CSO partners, PLHIV and PLTB from 11 countries. Its first meeting was supported or attended by numerous international partners, including WHO, UNAIDS, TB Europe Coalition, Global TB Caucus, Stop TB partnership, etc. The network is active in the following countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia.
The goal of the network is to encourage community leadership and advocacy in TB and HIV domains in the SEE region and ensure a sustainable national response to TB and HIV and continuous monitoring and advocacy for TB and HIV. Therefore, the SEE RCN is composed of experienced CSOs which will serve as mentors to the grassroots CSOs from the PLHIV and PLTB communities from the 11 countries, support their capacity development and jointly advocate for sustained response to HIV and TB. As stated by Timur Abdullaev, “there are two things that particularly resonate with me: the integrated TB-HIV approach, and the end goal of developing grassroots movement in the region by using the leadership and expertise of larger CSOs”.
Kate Thompson, TBEC partner and the Regional Manager for Western Europe at the Global TB Caucus, stated that “The first meeting of the SEE RCN meeting was broad in scope and purpose, something which was enhanced by the breadth of experience the attendees also had. Over the course of two days, the attendees had wide-ranging discussions regarding everything from the opportunities and challenges of working in the region, and had detailed discussions about the practicalities of setting up a civil society network”.
The first meeting was an opportunity to agree on the governance structure, focus areas and priorities in the upcoming year. If you would like more information about the network, please contact Aida Kurtovic at firstname.lastname@example.org.