We’re delighted to share our Annual Review 2020— A Year Like No Other: Communities on the Frontline, as a video.
In March 2020, we realized we were headed towards another pandemic that would alter our lives in fundamental ways. More than a year later, we are still grappling with the fall-out from COVID-19, which has resulted in close to 4 million deaths and an unknown number of people struggling with ongoing symptoms post-infection. The virus left many of us stranded in place, cut off from families, friends, and essential services. While the development of vaccines brought hope, it also brought despair as those of us in the global South wait for them to become available at the same speed and efficacy as in rich countries.
But the brightest hope to emerge from 2020 was the way that COVID-19 revealed the strength and resilience of communities. From the beginning, ITPC’s Global Activist Network members mobilized to take care of people living with HIV in their local areas. Through the network, we were the eyes and ears on the ground. We documented disruptions to healthcare and medicines and alerted those in power to respond. We held regular virtual briefings to reach people living with HIV with essential information. We jumped headfirst into advocacy around fair vaccine access, building on our track record of working to make medicines affordable.
Our members were afraid for their own health, but they still went outside their homes to deliver antiretrovirals (ARV) to people who could not access them. HIV taught us about stigma, fear, and the necessity for courageous action. I would like to dedicate this report to members of ITPC’s Global
Activist Network, who worked tirelessly in 2020 to build a world that respects the right to health.
ITPC Executive Director
The International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC) is a global network of people living with HIV, community activists, and their supporters working to achieve universal access to HIV treatment and other life-saving medicines.
ITPC is an issue-based coalition. The core of our work is Treat People Right. ITPC actively advocates for treatment access through three strategic focus areas:
Delhi Network of Positive People and ITPC Global Activist Network member
When I first heard about this new coronavirus in China, I knew it was only a matter of time until it reached India. I thought, what will happen to our community of people living with HIV, who need to take ARVs every day? How will they get their medicine?
I followed the news closely, and before the Indian government announced a lockdown, I closed our office in New Delhi so that our staff could stay home. The next day, the national lockdown was announced. Right away we got to work.
We assembled a team that could help deliver medicine to people who were not allowed to leave their homes. We put flyers up across town with five of our mobile numbers so that people could call us if they were missing medicine. We made up a uniform so that we looked official and the police would not harass us. Then we delivered HIV and hepatitis C medicine across the city on our motorbikes.
We reached about 300 people who were stuck at home. We had to carry our own food and water because nothing was open.
When ITPC Global saw what we were doing, they supported us without even asking. They gave us grants for personal protective equipment for our outreach team on motorbikes and also to buy rice, oil, and sugar for patients who were not eating because ARVs don’t work if you don’t take them with food.
Some patients were very hard to reach. One time, we traveled about five hours one way by car to the interior of Haryana to deliver 15 days’ doses of third-line ART because the medicine was out of stock there.
It was scary going out every day. When I came home to my family, I told them not to come near me. I soaked my clothes in disinfectant and hung them on the balcony to dry in the sun. But we need to make ourselves available in times of crisis if we call ourselves a community organization.
small grants for grassroots action and campaigns
Here are some additional highlights from ITPC’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
ASKING FOR A FRIEND: A CLOSER LOOK AT TESTING, COMMUNITY MONITORING AND PRICING DURING COVID-19
DIFFERENTIATED SERVICE DELIVERY (DSD) AND THE COVID-19 RESPONSE
COMMUNITY VOICES ON COVID-19
COVID-19 ROUNDTABLE SERIES: TESTING, PRICING AND ACCESS STILL MATTER
A PANDEMIC IS NOT
LET’S TALK ABOUT VAX: COVID-19 VACCINES
ITPC conducted rapid assessments for people living with HIV in Indonesia, Uganda, Ukraine, and Vietnam. Results showed the cross cutting negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on access, availability, and affordability of HIV treatment and care. Common issues included:
A collaboration with the sexual and reproductive health (SRHR) organizations, Salamander Trust and Making Waves, assessed how COVID-19 affected access to SRHR and HIV services for women and girls living with HIV in Southern and East Africa. The authors interviewed 50 women in Botswana, Eswatini, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Findings included:
ITPC’s work to Make Medicines Affordable involves 27 in-country partners united towards removing unjustified access barriers and preparing the market for the entry and uptake of new health products. The campaign leverages evidence-based, intellectual property interventions to achieve price reductions for ARVs, TB medicines, and direct-acting antivirals in our target countries. We use Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) flexibilities and catalyze demand at the national level to prepare an enabling environment for the introduction of optimal generic medicines. In 2020, we expanded our disease scope to include the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite restrictions related to the pandemic, our in-country partners held policy dialogues virtually with key stakeholders, national institutions, and the pharmaceutical industry, seeding ongoing conversation.
ITPC’s community-led monitoring and research initiatives aim to gather data on access and quality of HIV treatment globally and hold decision-makers accountable to the communities they serve. Through our flagship community treatment observatories (CTOs), people living with HIV, their networks, and organizations monitor the quality of health services and medicines in their local areas. They then sound the alarm when drugs are missing or when human rights are violated. ITPC’s community-led monitoring approach increases accountability of national HIV programs.
In 2020, we pivoted to monitoring the access of people living with HIV to care and treatment, as well as health and human rights experiences, during the COVID-19 crisis. We supported organizations to conduct community-led monitoring of urban health facilities in China, Guatemala, India, Nepal, and Sierra Leone. ITPC worked closely with our partners, all of which have strong relationships with networks of people living with HIV and/or TB, and staff already on the ground. Partners include AIDS Care China (ACC), ITPC-Latin America and the Caribbean (ITPC LATCA), the Global Coalition of TB Activists (GCTA), DRISTI (“Vision” – Nepal), and the Network of HIV Positives (NETHIPS) in Sierra Leone.
ITPC’s research revealed that more adolescents and young people were dropping out of HIV health services during the COVID-19 crisis. ITPC and its partners are using this data to advocate for the use of virtual (for example, SMS and social media) tracking and tracing to recover these clients into care.
This data resulted in a concrete advocacy agenda underlining the urgency for:
“2020 WAS NOT EASY; IT PUSHED US TO BE FLEXIBLE AND CREATIVE IN THE FACE OF COVID-19. WE ARE PROUD TO HAVE ACHIEVED QUALITY PROGRAM OUTCOMES AND FINANCIAL STABILITY IN A TOUGH ENVIRONMENT.”
— Collen Ngundu, Director of Finance, ITPC Global
Whether you make a one-time contribution, or provide ongoing support, every dollar counts.
If you’re from the private sector, work with us to express and expand your corporate social responsibility.
If you’re a government official, let us work together and create a standout model for effective health systems.
ITPC is grateful to current and new donors for their consistent support that enabled us to meet our strategic objectives and core goal of Treating People Right.
We are a small, dedicated team and we are proud to commit our energy, expertise, and creativity to this important work each and every day. •Solange Baptiste, Executive Director
We thank the Global Board for their continued support and invaluable guidance through these tough times.