SHOWCASE April 9, 2019

IRL (‘In Real Life’): Young people and the Global Fund

How does a young person see his engagements with the Global Fund (GF) processes, IRL?

At the young age, Doan Thanh Tung has already founded Lighthouse, an organisation which has become one of the leaders for MSM advocacy and HIV service delivery in Hanoi, Vietnam. As a self-identified gay man and MSM, Tung considers himself as part of the young key population. He is one of the young leaders who contributes his ideas and skills at a national level in the implementation of Vietnam’s Global Fund grant. 

We have invited Tung to answer some questions and to share his perspectives about young key population’s engagements with the GF country processes. This IRL piece tries to put a ‘human element’ into the advocacy we constantly hear: meaningfully engage young key population in the Global Fund country processes. 

Q1: Have you participated in the Global Fund country processes representing young people in Vietnam?

Tung: “I participated with the Global Fund processes since 2010 when the GF grants started to be implemented in the community in Vietnam. I was a member of the Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) since 2015 representing the MSM communityand Community based Organization. At that time, there  no specific space for Young Key Population (YKP) to be engaged with Global Fund and it’s partners, stakeholders. So, I am doing efforts to represent the community. For example, when I meet with the GF country teams, I highlight the specific needs and issues of young key population.”

Q2: What was your experience about it? Do you feel that you were heard?

Tung: “Until 2014, I have known about the CCM providing some space for key populations to speak out and raise the voice of the community with the GF. But when I started joining the CCM (as a member), I felt that I did not have preparation to engage with that mechanism. There is no information about what is the mechanism about, and how I can engage with the GF.

This is the missing part. They have to provide full and accurate information about the CCM to make sure that the community representative has better knowledge and understanding to be more engaged with the CCM. As well as, from community and YKP itself, not many of them aware of how important to raise the voices and issues to GF and influence GF to be more appropriate to community’s needs. 

I work closely with VUSTA, the PR of the GF and other CBOs. VUSTA is willing to hear the voice from the community. But there are a lot of CBOs not having opportunity to speak with the GF or the VAACcomponent. We still need more open space for the community so they can talk directly to the GF. The relationship between and among the PR, SR, SSR and community members must be strengthened where an open dialogue about different components can happen.”

Q3: What support are still needed for young people to participate in the GF processes?

The young key population still needs capacity building to have a better understanding on the GF processes and its departments. The technical assistance from other Orgs and the skill to do advocacy and to voice out the issues of the community, they also need to strengthen the network of key population. Get involvement of different key population to take the opinions of the grassroots organisation / community level document it, and raise it to the global fund. This is also applicable to other countries. The Global Fund should open the space with young KP to speak out and create conversations to have more knowledge about the needs of the young key population. We need to strengthen the community systems including the young key population and strengthen their voice so they are able to serve the community and contribute to the Global Fund processes.

Q4: Why do you think it is important that young people need to participate in these processes?

Tung: “It is really important to have the engagement of young key population to the Global Fund. According to the new data from the MoH and VAAC, the HIV is increasing rapidly among MSM especially the young MSM. In 2015, the prevalence is only 5,1%. But in 2017, the HIV prevalence rose to 12.9%. This is extremely high. The young key population are at the center of the HIV epidemic and contributes largely to the epidemic. To address the growing of HIV epidemic among young key population, we need to involve them in all levels of the Global Fund (grant) including the grassroots, national, regional and global levels. Their voices are so important in designing appropriate programs for them, meet their needs and address the whole spectrum of HIV epidemic for the young key population. “