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Friday, 20 January 2017 05:16

Capacity Strengthening: HC3 Facilitates Transition of the National AIDS Resource Center to the Federal Ministry of Health in Ethiopia

SBCC Capacity Strengthening in Action: HC3 Country Case Study Series - 2017 - “In any country, the ultimate test of sustainable SBCC is when it is owned and effectively implemented by the players within the local SBCC ecosystem.”

hc3sbcc csThis case study from Ethiopia explores how national and regional services for HIV prevention and control transitioned from a donor-funded, partner-operated effort to being the full responsibility of the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH). These services included the National AIDS Resource Center (NARC)’s Wegen AIDS Talkline, their library services, and HIV-related radio programming (Betengna and Dagu). Transitioning these services to the FMOH was considered key to building SBCC capacity in Ethiopia and to building sustainable SBCC systems.

The work of the Health Communication Capacity Collaborative (HC3) is based on a model they developed called the SBCC Capacity Ecosystem™ which reflects the systematic assessment, design and implementation of customised and strategic capacity strengthening for SBCC. This case study forms part of a series of case studies describing its SBCC capacity strengthening efforts, with each case study illustrating a different aspect of SBCC capacity strengthening at varying levels as outlined in the Capacity Strengthening Ecosystem™ (See Related Summaries below for other case studies in this series). As explained in the document, “The Ecosystem provides a structure with which a practitioner can assess SBCC capacity at the individual, organizational and system levels. The model recognizes that capacity strengthening is a dynamic, non-linear process that involves many interacting agents, and speaks to the inherently complex and often unpredictable nature of capacity strengthening and the ever-changing environments in which we work. It also recognizes that a single intervention is almost never enough to make change. The elements of the Ecosystem are necessarily mutually reinforcing.”

As explained in the case study, since 2004, SBCC had been integrated into Ethiopia’s HIV/AIDS prevention, care, treatment and support strategy, programmes, and activities under the NARC Project. The NARC project was a collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) administered by Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (CCP) and funded by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the U.S. government, first through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and most recently through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funded HC3 programme, which is led by CCP. The partners in this transition process were therefore USAID, CCP/HC3, and the FMOH.

The transiting of the radio component was straight forward and simply involved setting up the radio studio at the Ministry and putting in place a plan to train and assign staff that could manage the programme. The transition of the resource centre and the Talkline was not as simple and the case study explains how four distinct challenges needed to be addressed related to: support and commitment, space, staff, and funding. For example, initially there were concerns by many involved as to whether the transition was realistic. However, as soon as the top level of the FMOH was committed to the transition, the process moved forward more smoothly. Also, both the resource centre and the call centre required considerable physical space which was initially a challenge.

The case study shows that the collective commitment of partners – FMOH, USAID and CCP (HC3) – proved to be the force that pushed the transition forward. The NARC library found a home in the Ethiopian National Archives and Libraries Agency (NALA) which ended up having many advantages in terms of location, additional traffic, and extended opening hours.

In terms of lessons learned and overcoming challenges, the case study makes the point that those involved need to see the value of the services being transitioned. “The transition of HIV prevention services – notably the NARC and the Talkline – was successful due to a collective commitment to sustaining high-quality and effective interventions. Government, funders (particularly USAID, which supported the transition), partners and, most importantly, dedicated staff all believed in the interventions.”

In relation to outcomes, the case study states that, since the transition, the average number of calls to the Talkline has held steady at around 1,700 per day. However, the number of calls that have been serviced doubled from November 2015 to August 2016. The library and resource centre also receive regular traffic from students and SBCC practitioners. In addition, an outcome evaluation of the two year process showed that, overall, the outcomes “indicated significant project contributions to enhanced mechanisms for the improvement and standardization of SBCC efforts within Ethiopian health systems.”

Source: Capacity Strengthening: HC3 Facilitates Transition of the National AIDS Resource Center to the Federal Ministry of Health in Ethiopia

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