The four-year programme increased access to holistic care and support by promoting SRHR and mental health to foster resilience. As a result, READY+ has become a remarkable accomplishment by reaching out to 30,000 adolescents and young people living with HIV (AYPLHIV) in Eswatini, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.
During the project implementation, Community Adolescent Treatment Supporters (CATS) played a vital role. CATS provided information, counseling, and support to other young people living with HIV and encouraged adherence to HIV treatment during the home and clinic visits. In addition, besides AYPLHIV, we supported their families and service providers considering SRHR, HIV, gender, adolescent, and youth.
Another crucial objective of the project was reaching out to national and global policymakers, implementers, and donors through organized activities and media channels. We consider their role vital for achieving more sustainable results and developments. Meanwhile, we equipped and encouraged adolescents and young people to engage in decision-making to ensure that their needs and requests are taken into account.
Activities & AchievementsMozambique
In Mozambique, the most outstanding achievements of the READY+ have become the creation and realization of adhesion clubs during the pandemic, coordination meetings with health providers, and various training on SRHR and legislation pertinent to adolescents and young people living with HIV. Through the club activities, REPSSI provided psychosocial support and information about HIV and SRHR to project beneficiaries. As a result of various activities organized through the READY+, beneficiaries have developed resilience, less fear and insecurity with increased self-esteem, a positive image of themselves, and enthusiasm to embrace their dreams.
Moreover, with the acquired capacity, RESPSSI participated in the formation of the deputy’s Assembly of the Republic of Mozambique, where they spoke about the challenges faced by AYPLHIV in Mozambique. In addition, it organized a workshop with 45 representatives of various government partners and civil society organizations, including the National AIDS Council, HIV Office, Parliamentary Youth Office, Parliamentary Women and Gender, and Social Affairs Commission. It was a unique moment for sharing cross-cutting issues with a diverse group of stakeholders. At the end of the meeting, the deputies comprehended the themes discussed on the subjects of Human Rights, HIV, Rights of Key Populations, AGYW, and the LGBT+Q group. Furthermore, MPs pledged to take the concerns of key populations presented during the workshop into the discussion forums in the parliament.
Advocacy through community dialogues, engagement of policy and decision-makers, and media engagements have been the most outstanding achievements of READY+ in Zimbabwe. ZY+ worked in partnership with other civil society organizations and the Minister of Health and Childcare. The advocacy campaign became a success as recommendations were included in the national rollout. Advocacy against the issuance of expired drugs and drug stockouts was also a success as the Ministry of Health committed funds for the procurement of ARVs.
Additionally, CATS mentorship resulted in significant outcomes for the beneficiaries. With the support of READY+, CATS have been capacitated to advocate for their rights and mentor their peers on advocacy. They were also supported through psychosocial support sessions to foster resilience, which led them to play a very important role throughout the implementation.
Moreover, Clinic Community Collaboration helped in assessing gaps and challenges that young people were facing. Through collaboration, ZY+ worked a step closer towards adolescent-friendly health and differentiated service delivery. Overall, a huge impact was made in addressing some of the barriers and injustices YPLHIV faced in districts.
In Tanzania, the project's most significant achievement has become the increasing meaningful engagement of YPLHIV with high-profile government offices such as the Prime Minister and Minister of Policy, Parliament, Youth, Labour, Employment, and Disabled. For example, NYP+, in close coordination with the National Council of People Living with HIV/AIDS, organised advocacy with the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office. Those interactions and engagements with the policymakers consequently led to the amendment of the HIV/AIDS prevention and Control Act (2018) and review of adolescent age of consent for HIV testing.
We aimed to ensure an equitable HIV response that ensures no adolescent/youth is left behind with a holistic approach. NYP+ convened the 1st ever national youth forum in Tanzania attended by more than a hundred AYPLHIV across the country to validate the main challenges they face and set their priority issues to improve their wellbeing and health outcomes.
Moreover, through the interventions to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic, NYP+ provided psychosocial support to 2000 beneficiaries with various sessions and distributed 5,000 washable masks and 10,000 soap bars.
One of the most substantial achievements of the project in Eswatini was establishing a dialogue between policymakers and the young people living with HIV. SNYP+ held a round table discussion with the participation of policymakers and YPLHIV to discuss issues related to the needs and requirements of YPLHIV at the national level, including youth involvement in programming and parliamentary discussions, and domestic funding. In addition, with the UNAIDS and Ministry of Health partnership, SNYP+ developed a National SRHR guideline for women living with HIV in Eswatini.
During the implementation of the READY+ project, country networks played a significant role in informing and providing care to beneficiaries. With the support from UNICEF, CATS were capacitated on home visits, psychosocial support, and tracking methods of beneficiaries. SNYP+ worked directly with AYPLHIV, making it easier to build a relationship with beneficiaries.
As a result of all those activities, a partnership was established between the community and the network. Hence, the relationship between AYPLHIV and community leaders harmonized for the better of their communities. It also encouraged young people to take the lead in the establishment of community youth safe spaces.