Working together to make a difference for MSM in Cambodia
Issues: Responding to the needs of MSM requires a coordinated approach. Family Health International (FHI) and the Khmer HIV/AIDS NGO Alliance (KHANA) worked with UNAIDS and the Cambodia government to develop national bodies focused on MSM issues and were key players in the recent development of a National MSM Strategic Framework and operational plan which will guide efforts to reduce HIV transmission among MSM in the country.
Description: Efforts to prevent HIV among MSM have been fragmentary and successes restricted to the project level. In 2005, FHI and KHANA initiated an informal NGO coordination group to share resources and coordinate efforts. The group focused on the creation of Cambodia’s first national MSM network, which represents the concerns of MSM. Cambodia’s National AIDS Authority soon became actively involved and capitalized on the momentum to introduce the country’s first National MSM Technical Working Group. As members of this Group and its Secretariat, FHI and KHANA have been instrumental in the development of a National MSM Strategic Framework and operational plan which will now be used to guide efforts across the country.
Lessons learned: Moving from a project-based to program-based approach is critical for effective prevention programming. To do so requires active collaboration, partnerships with diverse organizations, and strategic planning and implementation. In Cambodia, collaborative structures were first created informally and then became more systematized following government endorsement. Government and community structures are now in place, a strategic framework and plan have been developed, and funding assured to allow Cambodia to rapidly scale up efforts to reach MSM, prevent HIV, and arrive at the country’s universal access targets.
Next steps: In Cambodia, the success of MSM collaboration efforts will be a catalyst that informs the response for other most at risk populations, such as injection drug users and female entertainment service workers.
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