Monday, March 9, 2009

Asks of the home based carers

Nathalie Lasslop, Cordaid HIV and AIDS Advocacy Officer, wrote this message for the Cordaid blog and shares it with the Wo=men blog as well.

On our last day in New York, (friday, the 6th of march) the our Cordaid panel took place: “Home based care (HBC) and Health System Strengthening: Gender Dimension and Task Shifting”. I had the honour to moderate the exchange between Cordaid partners Daphne Gondwe (Coalition of Women Living with HIV and AIDS, Malawi), Zebider Yitayew (Mary Joy Aid through Development, Ethiopia), as well as other HBC experts suggested by VSO International, the Huairou Commission and Healthgap, i.e. Eric Chikukwa (New Dawn of Hope, Zimbabwe), Mabel Takona (ActionAid, Tanzania) and Meaxensia Nakibumka (UCOBAC, Uganda) respectively.

Despite the difficult time the session had been scheduled at (lunchtime), we had about 20-25 participants, extremely interesting presentations and a good discussion afterwards. In order to ensure that the participants would take something away with them we had drawn up expected results of the session and here is what the output of the session was:

1) Recommendations on how to cooperate with the formal health system could be optimized
NB: Out of the 5 countries that presented only two had some connection to the formal health systems. The main recommendations were:
• Improve coordination between formal and informal systems
• Introduce referral systems
• Integrate services (e.g. ensure caregivers are known in the health centres so that when they come with an emergency patient, they can receive priority treatment)
• Standardize training and (possibly) certify (home based) caregivers
• Motivate professionals to also work at the home level
• Increase professionals’ cooperation with (home based) caregivers incl. supervision, monitoring and evaluation
• Strengthen health system to lighten the burden on caregivers
• Improve access to equipment and treatment

2) Recommendations on how HBCgivers’ position could be strengthened
• Support the organizing of (home based) caregivers (include men and ensure women are in leadership postions)
• Register Caregivers’ organizations so they have a legal status
• Support the introduction of volunteer policies to ensure caregivers are not taken for granted and overworked
• Ensure caregivers’ health, well-being, rights and safety (healthcare, care for caregivers, psychosocial and legal support as well as safety training and proper working materials such as glows etc.)
• Lobby government/formal health systems to ensure caregivers access to necessary resources

3) Proposals on the way forward for the implementation of the recommendations (national and global advocacy)
• Analyze and “share” information on the “costs” of care work in your environment (time, money saved to health system due to the free nature of the HBC work, personal resources handed out etc.)
• Lobby government officials for them to review policies to include the recommendations
• Lobby donor agencies and ensure funds are going straight to the caregivers

While Daphne and Zebider had to run to catch their airplane, I had a few more hours to go and could therefore attend the “Caregivers Action Caucus”, where we shared information about delegations that had taken on language from the recommendations to the “Agreed Conclusions” that had emerged from our cooperation as Caucus. We have to wait for the final version to come out next week, but so far so good: a number of governments gave us positive feedback on our work and indicated that they used language we had proposed. At the end of our Caucus meeting, we therefore decided to take the good cooperation and results achieved so far beyond this year’s CSW.

A small group of NGOs (Cordaid, HelpAge, Huairou Commission, VSO International, YWCA) will set up an online D-group that will be moderated on a rotating basis and will include all the caucus members. This will allow better exchange of information, improved strategizing and getting the global advocacy opportunities to the grassroots caregiver partners our respective organizations work with so that they can directly get involved. For the Cordaid partners working on HBC, this means that efforts to develop or deepen HBC advocacy will pay off. The caucus members were all very excited about this decision and we are all looking forward to working together and to streamlining common objectives. “ Nathalie Lasslop

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