As well as presenting trial results, Dr Ravi Prakash co-organised the event with Shweta Bankar of ICRW-Asia

India STRIVE dissemination meeting: Addressing structural drivers of HIV in the context of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

18 April 2019
Becky Wolfe

 

On 28 March in New Delhi, STRIVE partners ICRW-Asia and KHPT held a dissemination event to share the key findings from studies undertaken in India, Informative presentations and stimulating panel discussions involved researchers and policymakers from the government, UNFPA, UNAIDS and DFID. 

 Dr Ravi Prakash, KHPT; Dr Barua; and from Apnalaya, Haisna Bano Shaikh and founder Arun Kumar

The meeting covered five areas: 

  • The importance of tackling the structural drivers of HIV
  • Tackling structural factors through a co-financing mechanism 
  • Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through STRIVE’s approach 
  • Structural interventions with adolescents and young women
  • Addressing structural drivers within combination HIV-prevention programmes

Dr Ravi Verma, Director of ICRW-Asia, explained the interface between structural HIV prevention and achieving the SDGs

Improving the lives of adolescent girls and young women was a central feature of both the Parivartan and SAMATA interventions. The panel discussion that followed presentations on this research focused on the potential benefits and challenges of implementing such programmes.

“All ministries, all policy makers have to come down together, sit down and start analysing what is their stake in investing in adolescent education. I think that would be the challenge for us, because we say convergence, we say it is easy to make everybody sit together and act, but at the implementation level it is very difficult.” (Dr. Sheetal Rahi, Assistant Commissioner (Adolescent Health), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India)

  • “The meeting of the Commission on Status of Women at the UN has just finished and one of the prime concerns has been that the funding to grassroots NGOs and civil society, working on some of the most tabooed topics, from sexuality to adolescent masculinity, the funding is going down. So we cannot be talking about commitment to women’s agenda, commitment to gender equality, when funding for pathbreaking work around those issues is shrinking.” (Biraj Swain, Senior Fellow, Kalam Institute of Health Technology and Global Member, Feminist Task Force) 
  • “We are often celebratory of 75% reach. Therefore I would highlight that it is important to look at the unreached, no matter how time consuming, resource intensive or difficult that is. Otherwise we will never be able to achieve universal goal of SDGs” (Madhu Deshmukh, CEO, CARE India)

Participants - a few seen here - joined in discussions

The second panel discussion, on addressing structural drivers within combination HIV prevention programmes, followed research presentations on addressing alcohol availability for youth, and Samvedana Plus (addressing intimate partner violence among sex workers).

“If you want to change the norms, who is going to change the norms? The women themselves have to change the norms, the men are not going to change the norms.” (Sanghmitra Iyengar, Founding Trustee, Samraksha, Bangalore)

A range of stakeholders - from government, NGOs, funders, activist groups and academia - responded to STRIVE findings and analysis

Reflecting on the event later, Dr Nupur Barua, head of DFID Asia Hub, noted:

“The conceptual framing of the research programme is so well thought through and it was great to see how passionate the partners were about the programme. Also, the way that KHPT and ICRW had combined the presentation of findings with reflections from panel members was particularly innovative."

Dr. Shobhini Rajan, from National Aids Control Organisation (NACO), the chair for the panel discussion, concluded the session. A key takeaway was the need for multi-secotral work between different ministries, in order to have an impact both on HIV and on crucial SDG targets. 

Photocredit: Wien de Smet, 2019