AfNHi is an Africa regional advocacy network, which exists to unite African Civil Society voices and action on regional advocacy for HIV prevention research.
Facilitate and coordinate African led advocacy for HIV Prevention Research towards ending the HIV epidemic in Africa.
AfNHi is an African led network of HIV prevention research advocates based in Africa borne out of a joint vision by African Advocates. AfNHi is seeking to fast-track the biomedical HIV prevention research agenda on the continent through local ownership, using indigenous strategies to enhance Africa’s contribution to the Global goals.
The network began as an extended exchange around the need to champion African led advocacy in biomedical HIV prevention research among colleagues including WACI Health, New HIV Vaccine and Microbicides Advocacy Society (NHVMAS) and individual advocates.
Policy Research and Advocacy
Ensure that from the 2% of the national health expenditure proposed
Strengthen technical capacities specifically knowledge and skills
Advance a knowledge podium for cross learning with an aim of disseminating
Work with young people through targeted outreaches and mobilization
HIV / AIDS Statistics 2018 by WHO
Number of People Living with HIV / AIDS
Number of People receiving ARV treatment
Number of Children Living with HIV
Advocacy Experiences by Country
It is very difficult and the main reason is we just don’t have the information. If you haven’t barged in, you’re left outside. We haven’t reached that point in Malawi where we are invited, still not being invited to sit around the table.
Civil Society are not deliberately involved in research studies. CABs are set up, was thought of as community members, rather than advocates. There is a gap in information, no source where you get regular updates from all the research happening nationally.
It’s not that there’s no engagement, most studies do involve community members and they do a lot of awareness raising at that level. These are community representatives not advocates.
For us, you are engaging stakeholders to buy into new ideas they have not yet seen and be found effective vis a vis the immediate needs of preventing new infections. We have tools that work, some pose the question as to why we don’t invest in the implementation of what works instead of doing advocacy for supporting research.
Over the years we have expanded the number of stakeholders engaged through the realisation that more tools are needed in order to end the epidemic.
The funding channels around HIV PRx is very lean, as organisations we need to constantly find innovative ways to remain focused and committed.
It is easy, I participate at the Ministry of Health. I have been doing advocacy for many years, in the early years of development we used to use placards with signs, marching ‘’we want treatment’’ – this has really evolved. The level of engagement has changed now. We need to sit down with these people. Your target is your ally, advocacy has evolved. Things are changing.
As civil society we are catalysing the process of PrEP roll out in Botswana. We are represented at the Ministry of Health PrEP Technical Working Group
membership also includes representatives from FHI360 and USAID. There are only about four civil society representatives, but it used to be two and we recommended for two additional.
Doing Advocacy in our context is very easy, our representatives are very reachable. Advocacy around specific prevention tools has been varied engagement with civil society. When there was talks for microbicides Kenya were preparing for roll out; sitting in different policy making platforms in the country. Discussions looked at how to raise community awareness around microbicides, who are the priority populations for roll out and facilitating multi-platform conversations, doing community awareness, access and availability.
Recently there was research literacy for PrEP for communities living around the area where the research is happening, preparing them to be part of research to not only participate as specimens, to influence – share feedback.
Is it doable but I acknowledge that there is a lot of challenges as we do this kind advocacy. We do evidence based advocacy – generate enough evidence so we are able to influence decisions with the specific or respective ministries and sanction change in this area.
There are a number of challenges in this process – advocacy involves partnerships and collaborations and individuals who determine the focal points in the ministry
Tanzania has a new regime since 2015, there has been a lot of ministerial reshuffles, and administration reshuffles. As a result the organisation has lost some of the politicians that were champions.
It is not that easy. If we look specifically at biomedical HIV prevention research advocacy it is something that the country was not ready for, not decision makers, policy implementers – not sure whether it is lack of information. Has been challenging to convince them to take up these new biomedical tools.
I was saying that the advocacy space has been shrinking, and given that some of these tools are for some key populations, the legal environment has been hostile
Frustrating that these trials are happening in the country, but as government they are not getting involved. It is important bridging that gap and having our government taking advantage of these trials happening in our backyard and rapidly scaling these up.
It is not difficult in Zimbabwe, the response is evidence based. The government is operating within the systems with the available knowledge. There are opportunities to engage with government around different aspects of HIV policy. This is managed through the National AIDS Council of Zimbabwe. In my context it is easy in terms of policy, but it is difficult in terms of resources.
There is an acute lack of resources in Zimbabwe as a whole and even in HIV, the country received less funding than others. In this small funding pool, advocacy is last on the list of things that would be funded. Civil society have had to find informal ways of engaging to do the work.