|Wise UP quarterly report indicates commendable implementation rates|
The quarterly report for October-December, 2014 of Wise Up program - DKT’s generic condom promotion and HIV prevention program implemented by Timret Lehiwot Ethiopia targeting female sex workers, their clients and other most at-risk populations (MARPs) – has been released.
Female Sex workers training, coffee ceremony sessions, Drop-in Centers (DIC) service provision, establishment of referral systems are among the major activities and services launched by the program to prevent HIV/AIDS. The program operates in 28 towns found in all regions of the country.
As sex workers in many places are highly vulnerable to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) due to multiple factors, provision of trainings for sex workers remains a top priority in the wise up program. The report states that trainings were conducted in all the 32 DICs in this quarter. Thus, sex workers recruited from different venues were trained and certified up on completion of two days trainings. The plan to train 2,645 sex workers has been achieved as 2,681 of them were trained in the reported period.
Some of the major points covered by the trainings include: appropriate condom use, condom negotiation skills, HIV/AIDS and STIs, reproductive health, challenges and opportunities in the lives of sex workers, safer sex, sharing success stories.
The report states that coffee ceremony sessions have been done twice a month at all DICs. More importantly, denotes the report, the coffee ceremony helps to promote the DICs and the services so that they feel it as their home and build confidence to come into DICs freely. Accordingly, 4,032 sex workers are reported to have participated in 192 coffee ceremony sessions. The coffee ceremony sessions have been conducted per the plan.
A single sex worker may participate in two or more sessions with different topics of discussion. According to the report, alcohol, drug and substance abuse; business skills; personal hygiene and sanitation; myths and facts about HIV/AIDS and STIs; family planning; condom use and harm reduction; positive living; risky behaviors and life skills were the major topics of discussion.
Another one of the activities in the Wise UP program is counseling and referral system. A total of 1,516 sex workers have got counseling service. Of these counseled sex workers, 1,275 were referred to nearby health facilities for different HIV and Health services. 1,253 FSW were accompanied and got the referred service. Referral slips are used to track the number of service users. The number of beneficiaries of the counseling and referral system within the quarter is way more than the planned 960 FSWs.
Stakeholders meeting is another one of Wise up program’s strategy for introducing program activities to gain commitment from stakeholders for upcoming activities besides helping to evaluate accomplishments. The meeting is also a podium to collect feedbacks from the community to scale up the program and amend activities. It also helps to strengthen the referal service. Accordingly, 480 stakeholders, in line with the plan, attended the meetings in all DICs representing different government and non government organizations for the sensitization meeting.
The 32 Drop-in-centers (DICs) of Timret Lehiwot Ethiopia located in 28 towns in all regional administrations across Ethiopia provided services for 55,008 Female Sex Workers (FSWs) during the reported period although the plan was to reach 24,000 FSWs. The major services provided by DICs include: resting accommodation, basic literacy, outreach workers, act as a hub for network and referrals to Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), and care and treatments services, personal hygiene services (shower and laundry facilities) and as an outlet for condom and IEC material provision.
In dealing with the distribution of IEC and promotional materials, the report states that they were distributed through outreach activities, during trainings and events and in drop in-centers. Accordingly, the report states that 12,651 different Information, Education and Communication (IEC) and promotional materials were distributed to the sex workers and other target groups in the reported period against the Planned 25,600 materials.
With regard to cooperatives, the report states that there were 46 Self Help Groups (SHGs) having 252 members. Of these, it elaborates, 41 are legally registered and engaged in income generating activities which include 14 cooperatives engaging in social marketing (condom sale) as additional source of income. The amount of profit that the cooperatives made in the reporting period is reported to be 101,799 birr. They also saved 44,745 birr. They have accumulated a total capital of 777,931 (in cash).
The report also states that the major challenges faced during the period include: budget and activity cut to address stakeholders and other vulnerable groups, lack of promotional materials, shortage of different IEC materials to be distributed during trainings, and resource limitations to diversify DIC services.