July 30, 2020 – Dr. Praphon Tangsrikeatkul, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office, presided over the certificate presentation ceremony for the first class of civil society health volunteers who are key population (KP) lay providers and have passed the training and competency certification under the curriculum, “HIV Prevention and Treatment,” under the USAID Community Partnership (ENGAGE) project. The ceremony was attended by Dr. Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoenchai, Director General of the Department of Disease Control, Professor Emeritus Dr. Praphan Phanuphak, Director of the Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Centre, and Dr. Nittaya Phanuphak, Project Directory of ENGAGE and Executive Director of Institute of HIV Research and Innovation (IHRI), to congratulate the certificate recipients.
The framework of the strategy to end AIDS in Thailand focuses on strengthening of civil society to provide HIV services in communities. Therefore, the Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Center in collaboration with community partners, i.e. the Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand, the Services Workers in Group Foundation and the MPlus Foundation, under the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), established the USAID Community Partnership project to train staff from civil society organizations working with key populations (KP), mainly men who have sex with men and transgender women, to provide quality and standardized HIV services in their respective communities, in support of the national ending AIDS strategy and to strengthen the role of KP communities in providing health services for HIV and related diseases. The project has been in operation since 2017, in cooperation with the Department of Disease Control and the Department of Health Services Support, Ministry of Public Health. Project successes have led to the Ministry of Public Health’s announcement in 2019 that trained and certified civil society staff can be registered under the Ministry of Public as civil society health volunteers, to assist the government in finding individuals at risk, preventing new infections and caring for people living with HIV. Currently, a total of 74 civil society staff in the first class of KP lay providers have been trained and have passed the competency assessment criteria for the project curriculum. This is a good indication of the success of the project. Therefore, the Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Centre, together with network partners, have organized this certificate presentation ceremony to the first class of KP lay providers successfully completing the curriculum “HIV Prevention and Treatment”.
Professor Emeritus Dr. Praphan Phanuphak, Director of the Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Centre, expressed how the successes of this project, the development and certification of the capacity of this first class of KP lay providers of HIV services, would be an important starting point for expanding HIV services in communities. He also extended this gratitude to the Department of Disease Control and the Department of Health Services Support that advocated and planned for the development and certification of national civil society health volunteers and would raise the level of development of the public health system in Thailand as well as the level of development and capacity certification of civil society organizations throughout the country.
Dr. Praphon Tangsrikeatkul, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office, praised the work of ENGAGE for conducting the successful pilot for the development and certification of capacity of KP lay providers, that has led to the presentation of certificates to this first class of recipients. This model will support the country’s efforts in HIV to become more efficient and can be further developed and adapted to address other health issues in communities, such as tuberculosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, and drug and substance use, among others.
Dr. Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoenchai, Director General of the Department of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health, stated that the policy to support the role of civil society organizations in collaboration with the government is an important part of the Department of Disease Control’s framework for ending AIDS in the country. In the past, the Departments have jointly prepared and driven work in this this area until the endorsement of the Ministry of Public Health Regulation of 2019, which sanctions the provision of HIV services by civil society organizations. The Departments are currently preparing national certification and registration systems for civil society health volunteers. It is expected that these will be adopted and will cover KP lay providers in the near future.