Welcome to the annual report of HERA for 2011. Over the coming pages you will learn about the work we delivered in 2011.
Organizing the first fundraising activity among commercial sector for People Living with HIV was a highlight of our work in 2011. The opera aria concert supported by the President of Macedonia, Gjorge Ivanov and Macedonian Opera and Ballet raised over 3.500 EUR for purchase of PCR viral load test and to deliver social packages for most in need people who are infected and affected by HIV. The concert was one among many successful debut activities, planned and achieved by the grassroots team of the PLHIV community organisation “Stronger together”. We are happy to have the Stronger together in our everyday work and will continue to provide safe space and support till the right moment when the organisation will continue on its own path. 2011 proved to be another very challenging time to advocate for sexual and reproductive rights.
Namely, in February 2011 the Government of Macedonia had finally adopted the first National SRH strategy, the 3-years action plan was not approved due to lack of political will of the Government to ensure contraceptives are covered in the state patient’s health insurance. At the Christmas Eve the Government of Macedonia has again launched the media campaign (initiated in 2010) on the negative consequences of the abortion titled as “Choose life – You have a right to choose, as part of its pro-natal policy. Moreover the minister of Health during World Contraception Day has highlighted that contraception is not a priority of this Government which was another strike for undermining SRH right-based values „ It may be possible [contraceptives to be covered from the health insurance] in the next 20 years, now there is no money for that. There are many other drugs that are needed to prevent many diseases, which are not on the health insurance list“. HERA was not immune to these challenges and has carried out several advocacy activities to prove it’s at the forefront of championing sexual and reproductive health rights. In this regard, in January 2011 the Parliamentary Commission for Equal Opportunities between women and men together with HERA organized a public debate on sexuality education in which the Commission gave support to the Framework for Comprehensive Sexuality Education and recommended “to develop a specific school programme for sexuality education and further on implement a pilot project”. At the same time the press conference together with the Professional Association of Gynecologists and Obstetrics were organized to counterpart the anti-abortion campaign and asking from the Government to withdrawn the video spots. During World Contraception Day campaign activities HERA also organized a petition for introducing sexuality education in elementary and high schools “to ensure effective implementation of the National SRH strategy for SRH 2010 – 2020 which foreseen ensuring accessible modern contraception and introducing of sexuality education”. Petition was signed by 14 NGOS and further sent to Ministry of Education and the Macedonian Parliament.
Delivering HIV and SRH services continued to be one of the most important values of our work. 1647 clients have benefited from SRH-related services in our youth friendly centers “Sakam da znam” whilst 2292 people have recived VCT through our mobile clinics. Around 60% of the people who are reached through our services were those who are poor, marginalized and socially-excluded. We have also distributed over 35.000 condoms during our promotional and educational activities across the country.
Partnership and collaboration remained very important to us. Together with NGO PORAKA we continued promoting knowledge and skills of relationship and sexuality for persons with intellectual disabilities and their parents/carriers. We were delighted to launch the first guidelines for sexuality and learning disabilities – to assist professionals and parents to talk about relationship and sexuality education. As an active member of the Coalition of sexual and health rights of marginalized communities we were on the frontline to defend sexual rights of the LGBT community
and to fight homophobia in the school textbooks. We are proud our partnership with the Global Fund in the field of HIV has been strengthened. Hosting CCM Secretariat to fight HIV and Tuberculosis in the country, has continued to successfully support CSO and Government members and individuals affected by the diseases to ensure they are skilled and have tools to oversee the national respond to HIV and Tuberculosis. Through the Global Fund project 2012 – 2016 we have also secured additional funding to ensure sustainable provision of SRH and HIV services within our youth friendly services and to keep building capacities of the people living with HIV as advocates for their rights. Least but last we like to emphasise our strong commitment to improve the capacities of our team as well as being most closely to the beneficiaries to involve them in process of planning of the forthcoming interventions. During the year there were set of reputable national and international capacity building trainings attended by the core staff and volunteers. In addition, we organised a half-year retreat for review of the current Strategy framework progress and we developed and annual programme for 2012.
We hope you enjoy reading about our achievements in 2011. We’ll continue to be at the forefront of championing sexual and reproductive rights and to deliver our services as efficiently as possible, especially to those who most needed. Finally, we also want to thank all our volunteers, partners and donors for their contribution and support in our work and activities.