Ensuring the continuity of healthcare services in the context of combating HIV infection: EECA Experts meeting 

A two-day meeting of experts from six countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia is taking place in Istanbul on November 2-3. The experts have gathered to discuss “Healthcare Service Continuity Management in the Context of HIV Prevention in the EECA Region.”

The meeting aims to initiate a structured process for planning healthcare service continuity and outline specific steps for the near future in five countries: Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Andreas Tamberg, Portfolio Manager of the Global Fund, emphasized that the challenges related to HIV/AIDS and COVID-19 epidemics, as well as active conflicts in the region, highlight the need for developing strategic approaches and specific actions at the country level to manage healthcare service continuity. He called on the representatives of the countries to choose at least one task or step related to continuity during the two-day event to benefit most from it and gain relevant expertise for successful implementation in their countries.

We would like to note, that the Alliance for Public Health has developed a detailed strategic document “HIV Contingency Planning Guide”. The document is quite general and universal. However,  in collaboration with national partners the guide was personalized for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Moldova, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Montenegro in the region, and is available at https://aph.org.ua/en/eeca/.

Among the participants of the meeting are representatives of non-governmental organizations and key communities in the context of HIV, members of Country Coordination Mechanisms (CCMs), Public Health Centers, and Ministries of Health from six countries. Regional and international organizations such as the Global Fund, WHO, UNDP, and the Central Asian HIV Network are also represented.

“This is the 3rd meeting with partners from EECA region on the topic of developing strategies for continuity of services in crises. We have been working in this direction for more than 3 years and I am glad to note that from informing we have already moved to the development of concrete steps, detailed strategies and work closely with already 9 countries in the region, providing them with expert and technical support, – said Ekaterina Rizhkova – Sebeleva, coordinator of #SoS 2.0.in the “Social Equality Hub” – Today partners from the “Center for Public Health of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine” will tell about the experience of developing an algorithm and implementation of a support plan for the Business Continuity Management System (BCMS) in accordance with the requirements of DSTU EN ISO 22301:20. Azerbaijan has already included in its work plan a new application to the Global Fund for specific continuity interventions. We continue active work with Armenia, Georgia, Moldova. As a result of this meeting we expect initiative from partners and stakeholders of Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan. For our part, we will be with our partners at all stages to help them adapt national health systems in the most effective way and be prepared for all types of devastating crises and their consequences.”

The event will showcase best practices, including:

– Business Continuity Management from a technical and software perspective for EECA countries, namely Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine.

– Key features of Business Continuity Management systems.

– Strengthening healthcare system resilience through continuity and recovery potential enhancement, led by representatives of the World Health Organization and the Primary Healthcare Special Program.

– Ukraine’s experience in promoting a business continuity management approach in public health.

The event also plans to conduct focused working groups to discuss practical key issues important for further work within the countries, including:

– Expanding the understanding of business continuity management principles.

– Identifying key technical and software risks affecting healthcare programs in participating countries.

– Assessing the impact on critical processes and services.

– Developing strategies and solutions to ensure continuity of critical processes and services.

– Establishing timelines and schedules for planning and implementing measures.

The event is initiated and organized by the Social Equality Hub charitable foundation and the Alliance for Public Health with the support of the Global Fund, as part of the regional project #SoS 2.0.

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