Inter Health aid platforms: Partnerships that improve resilience among MARPs in Uganda, 2012

Thomas Muyunga

Objectives: This programme was designed by MARPS IN UGANDA to bring together various actors within the structures that fuel discrimination and stigma after realizing that these were hindrances in access to social services by MARPs.

 Background: Attributive stigma, self stigma and discrimination lead to violations, violence and abuse meted towards MARPs. This fact was central in designing the inter health aid platform geared at bringing together Security officers, health service providers, social services providers, CSOs, NGOs, MARPs-targeting organisations and line ministries to share experiences and improve sensitivity in handling MARPs issues. MARPs are treated disproportionately.

Methods: MARPS IN UGANDA, part of the Uganda National AIDS Services’ Organisations, conducted a partnership building under the aegis of inter health aid platforms in 8 districts of Uganda: 3 credit-extension facilities, 3 media houses, 60 health facilities, 20 police stations, 22 higher education facilities, 12 social spaces, 4 law firms, 5 counselling centers, 100 community leaders, 3 religious organisations, 12 NGOs/CSOs and 13 MARPs-targeting organisations were engaged in this partnership that was used as a referral system and to redress points.

Results: It was possible to refer cases to the various actors. This improved on the confidence by sex-workers, MSM, Substance users to seek or meet their needs. It was possible to create action viable groups among MARPs and these became collateral to access credit for starting small businesses. All 60 health facilities are Anti-Retro Viral accredited and it was possible to refer all 122 cases for chronic care. It was possible to engage the law firms and media houses in lobbying parliament to educate public on criminalization and its effects. It was possible to document religious sponsored stigma and discrimination using testimonies by MARPs.

Conclusions: Providing names of ART Accredited health facilities and vigilance in identifying HIV positive persons was an opportunity to enrol beneficiaries. Media has since started reporting positively on MARPs, like MSM. Although issues of anal sex and the risks of unprotected anal sex are still not reported in a manner that may inform public of unprotected sex. We hope to continue with these meetings and provide more opportunities for media to clarify on risks and behaviour balanced with scientific views. Religious views still fuel stigma and discrimination.

Implications: Health facilities in Uganda are opportunities to target a broader population, through meetings and partnerships like these ones it is possible to improve on regard for all persons. Testimonies shared can help gauge performance. 


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