New Publication on Community Systems Strengthening (CSS) and Key Populations

Published: October 2, 2013

New Publication on Community Systems Strengthening (CSS) and Key Populations

 
Details the strengths and weaknesses of CSS for addressing HIV among key populations; provides recommendations for maximizing the impact of CSS for key populations
 
October 2, 2013 – The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) released a new publication today focused on Community Systems Strengthening (CSS) and its role in addressing HIV among key populations. The publication is designed to give the reader a clear understanding of the definition, history, strengths, and weaknesses of CSS, with a focus on how it can be used to support programs and services targeting key populations around the world.
 
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria first coined the term “Community Systems Strengthening” in 2007 and formally incorporated the concept into its funding model in 2009. Developed in recognition of the unique and vital role played by communities in maintaining and improving health, the Global Fund’s CSS framework aims to provide a clearer structure for financing community programs and infrastructure. Activities eligible for support under the CSS framework include provision of community-based health services, monitoring and documentation of government interventions, and advocacy for enabling environments.
 
Community-based organizations have been at the center of the response to HIV among key populations since the epidemic began. In most countries around the world, governments and mainstream public health institutions have been unwilling and/or unable to invest in community development or the valuable services that communities are best suited to provide, including shaping populations-specific interventions, monitoring service access and provision, and promoting human rights. 
 
In this vacuum, communities of men who have sex with men (MSM), sex workers, injection drug users, and transgender people have stepped up to provide essential services for key populations, tailored to each population’s needs and offered in a safe environment. Communities have also been at the forefront of advocacy efforts targeting governments, funders, and implementers, highlighting the importance of population-specific constituency-led programs and advocating for the resources and political support necessary to implement them. Strengthening community systems gives rise to the programs, services, and enabling environment that key populations need to effectively prevent and treat HIV. 
 
The CSS framework explicitly recognizes the central role of community-led organizations in addressing HIV among key populations, and it offers a number of valuable opportunities to channel funding to communities to support key population programming. However, important gaps remain in the approach taken to CSS by the Global Fund and by the broader global AIDS field, affecting the ability of communities to maximize their impact on the epidemic. 
 
This publication outlines both the opportunities and challenges presented by the current approach to CSS, including actions that can be taken by stakeholders at all levels of the AIDS response to help ensure CSS works as effectively as possible for addressing HIV among key populations. Recommendations also include additional ways that key populations can advocate with the Global Fund for improved key population programming.
 
The publication, entitled “Community Systems Strengthening and Key Populations: A Policy Discussion Paper,” is available on the MSMGF’s website here. Any questions about the publication can be directed to the MSMGF’s Director of Policy Noah Metheny at nmetheny@msmgf.org.
 
The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) is an expanding network of AIDS organizations, MSM networks, and advocates committed to ensuring robust coverage of and equitable access to effective HIV prevention, care, treatment, and support services tailored to the needs of gay men and other MSM.
 
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