The national responses to HIV in the Dominican Republic and Caribbean region have historically relied heavily on financing from international assistance. In November 2017, the HFG Dominican Republic and Eastern and Southern Caribbean teams partnered with USAID, UNAIDS, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, and other partners to encourage countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) to share their experiences and lessons learned for guaranteeing the sustainability of the HIV and AIDS response. HFG Dominican Republic provided financial and logistical support to three members of the Dominican government to attend the Third Latin American and Caribbean Forum on Sustainability of the HIV Response “Road to Ending AIDS in LAC: Towards Sustainable Regional Fast Track Targets” in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The forum provided finance and HIV experts from LAC and around the world the opportunity to share promising interventions for ending the HIV epidemic by 2030, and strategies for ensuring that national HIV responses will be sustained into the future.
HFG also assisted USAID and the Global Fund to organize a post-forum event titled “Caribbean Region Sustainability Consultation: Moving to Action.” This event brought officials and experts from the Caribbean and Dominican Republic together to discuss options and develop practical steps for transitioning from donor financing, including mobilizing domestic resources to counter the HIV and AIDS epidemic. Specific topics addressed included collaboration between Ministries of Health and Ministries of Finance, the role of the private sector in financing the HIV response, and sharing lessons and principles for sustainable financing. HFG Dominican Republic contributed to the development of the agenda, financed the participation of Dominican representatives from the National HIV and AIDS Council (CONAVIHSIDA) and National Health Service (SNS), and provided financial support for interpretation services.
HFG spoke with the Dominican representatives after the forum, who shared the key national experiences they communicated to the region. Among the highlighted experiences were the Dominican Republic’s increased allocation of domestic funding for HIV medicines as part of its transition from donor financing, as well as the importance of consensus-building and political advocacy in achieving financial sustainability of the HIV and AIDS response. According to María Castillo of CONAVIHSIDA, “The most valuable part of the meeting was learning how other nations are working towards sustainability.” Dr. Ilda Natera, project director at SNS, agreed, adding: “After attending this meeting, I understand that the wsDominican Republic and Caribbeanay to guarantee the sustainability of civil society organizations is by linking them with the public sector.” Lessons from the forum are already being incorporated into the attendees’ work in the Dominican Republic: “We are strengthening services, training human resources, providing necessary equipment and supplies, and holding multi-actor discussions,” Natera shared. She also added that the National Health Service is opening new comprehensive care units to bring services closer to the population to better retain patients.
HFG continues to support the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean region in the application of the best practices developed at these events to strengthen their national HIV responses.