More organisations now implement interventions for Female Sex Workers (FSWs) in Rivers because of the increasing focus on Most at Risk Populations (MARPs) in the state. In line with this trend, the State Agency for the Control of AIDS (SACA) set up a forum where FSW Implementing Partners (IPs) would meet and discuss emerging issues, harmonise strategies, share experiences, learning and best practices. The forum in addition to other outputs addresses issues that emerge at the Civil Society Organization (CSO) level with specific regards to FSW activities.
It was observed that some CSOs in the state used different strategies to implement FSW projects while some others worked in the sites. The forum helped to strengthen the capacity of local partners as well as stakeholders to implement HIV prevention interventions. The rippling effect of this forum will also lead to improved programming for MARPs with regards to the Minimum Prevention Package Intervention (MPPI).
The main aim of the forum was to provide a platform for developing a database of current FSW IPs indicating LGAs/communities of coverage and sites, learning and sharing experiences on FSW intervention by IPs and to harmonize strategies for targeting FSW. Until now, the state has not had any form of FSW IPs/CSOs forum; after extensive discussions with the Director of Programmes in Rivers SACA and the Executive Director RIVSACA, a forum was decided on. The forum was conducted by SACA with technical and financial support from SHiPS for MARPs. In his opening remarks RIVSACA Executive Director said “There is need to know how many ‘players’ are on the field and also to standardise intervention. Although implementation packages are changing, it is important to keep trend of what the National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA) and SACA are doing. Reports from the field showed that some CSOs/IPs were handling 2months, some 6weeks and others 6months. This is why we need to standardise intervention in the state”.
At the end of the forum, partners shared experiences. There was also improved knowledge on MPPI by attendees, the process of standardising FSW implementation commenced and database of partners was generated. More importantly, FSW sites were accurately portrayed which helps in reducing friction on the field. It was also suggested by one of the implementing partners (IPs) that the meeting be held quarterly due to the positive impact the forum had on them in relation to the FSW intervention.
Society for Family Health, through the SHiPS for MARPs project has set the pace for ensuring that ‘players’ in the state provide quality programming for FSWs. This has become a best practice for the project and the entire state at large.
Society for Family Health… Creating Change, Enhancing Lives