Remarks by Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch
USAID Advancing Partners and Communities Project
Celebration of Accomplishments Event
Friday, July 26, 2019
It is my pleasure to be at this event, which marks the conclusion of activities under the Advancing Partners and Communities Project, known as APC. The program would not have been possible without the impressive collaboration with the community-based organizations represented here today, and their partnership with the Ministry of Public Health. Together we have improved the lives of thousands of Guyanese living with, affected by, or vulnerable to HIV.
In July 2013, USAID implemented the Advancing Partners and Communities Project to support Guyana’s national HIV response, aimed at reducing the transmission of HIV among high-risk groups. The project, which concludes on September 30, 2019, focused on advancing and supporting community programs that seek to promote the overall health of high-risk groups, through training and mentoring of staff from community-based organizations to deliver critical HIV services on the ground.
The U.S. Government recognizes that community-based organizations are important partners in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and we commend the tireless work of the men and women who reach communities with services in order to improve and save lives. These community organizations are key to getting prevention messages to communities, especially those most at risk of HIV. They are also key partners in increasing access to services through linking communities to care and treatment services, and providing needed follow up and psycho-social support. Partnering with these organizations is critical to ensuring comprehensive client-centred programming for HIV prevention, care and treatment in Guyana.
Over the past six years, APC provided both organizational development and technical expertise to develop the civil sector’s response to HIV and AIDS. The program strengthened community-based organizations’ institutional capacity, to better manage their organizations and play a key role in delivering essential HIV services and products.
Over the past year, almost 3,000 people from key populations were reached with HIV prevention services, and in addition, about 2,800 people were tested for HIV, enabling them to obtain needed services early. Community based testing and referral approaches remain a critical avenue to achieving early diagnosis and reaching key populations not accessing the health system.
A key component of the Community-Based Organizations’ work is their collaboration with the private and public sector treatment sites to improve the quality of services offered and thus retention of HIV positive individuals in care and treatment programs. Community members from key populations partnered with six main treatment sites and re-engaged 141 HIV positive individuals who had defaulted on their treatment, bringing them back into care and treatment services.
Overall, the Community-Based Organizations now have the capacity to implement mature HIV/AIDS programs, which includes linking HIV positive individuals to other related critical services such as domestic violence intervention, and social and legal services.
In recent years, there has been a marked shift by the Ministry of Health and National AIDS Committees to proactively engage community-based organizations in the fight against HIV, partnering with them in planning, decision-making, program monitoring, and service delivery. This represents a positive change in national HIV response, both in terms of service delivery as well as recognizing civil society as central to a successful and sustainable approach to ending AIDS as a public health threat.
I applaud the people of Guyana for their commitment to community-based organization inclusion and sustainability. It is my understanding that contracting is underway to procure eligible local Non-Governmental Organizations to provide HIV services for high-risk groups, which will fill critical gaps in coverage and access to the public health care system. Thanks to the Minister for advocating for this initiative.
Today, as we celebrate the progress of the project, I want to congratulate the staff of the Advancing Partners and Communities project, the Community-Based Organizations, the client-advocates, the Ministry of Health and other development partners for your tireless work and contributions to the project’s achievements.
In closing, I wish to encourage you to keep up the good work, so that the gains made through this partnership over the years are not lost, but rather form the solid foundation on which to build and achieve Guyana’s first AIDS-free generation.