The second meeting of the international Advisory Board took place on Friday 18 September. .
This meeting coincided with the annual Australasian HIV/AIDS Conference held in Brisbane and so the meeting was well attended by those on site.
The agenda covered an update on inviting organisations; update on approaching industry; reviewing the regional assembly agenda; and communication and other business.
An update was provided regarding the invitations to join the network, both organisation and industry. Whilst there has been successes, the process of accessing and communicating with larger specialist organisations has been more complicated than originally thought and this has caused some delays.
In addition to the previous six members, new members include: a clinician in Laos, the International Union against Sexually Transmitted Infections-Asia - Pacific Region, the Japanese society for AIDS research, HIV program - University of Singapore. Organisations in Laos, Myanmar and Indonesia have been contacted and follow up meetings are taking place in Sri Lanka and Japan in October. AIAB members who are affiliated with organisations in the region are requested to reach out and encourage them to come on board.
In addition to professional societies, industry partners have been approached, i.e. pharmaceutical companies. Despite genuine interest, commitment has not been achieved thus far. Further to this, funds will be sought from industry to support member organisations attendance at the regional assembly.
Noting the proportion of HIV sector members already in the network, AIAB members were encouraged to nominate alternative organisations to contact as the invitation should be extended to Hepatitis and diagnostic organisations, and perhaps and harm minimization, addiction medicine and TB organisations at a later stage.
It was noted that the Australasian HIV/AIDS Conference was an great opportunity to identify potential new members; and the recent name change of ASHM- from the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine to Australasian Society for HIV, Viral hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine may assist with engaging viral hepatitis groups.
Review of draft assembly program:
There was a brief run-down of the draft assembly program currently consisting of plenaries and breakout sessions. Sessions are designed to inform participants of what other organisations are doing; as well as facilitating networking, information exchange and capacity development.
Considerations of the role of government were identified and need to be further explored given the issue of the national health system.
AIAB members discussed the difficulty of having geographical and content equality in the program. Likewise, sexual health may not be covered to the same extent as HIV or viral hepatitis.
Next meeting will be held Sunday 17 January 2016.
The first meeting of the International Advisory Board took place on Wednesday 22 July at the International AIDS Society Conference, 2015, held in Vancouver, Canada.
The meeting was well attended and participants used this opportunity to discuss the purpose, goals and role of the ASHM International Advisory Board.
ASHM Vision for its International Program and Key Activities:
Commitment to Regional Professional Societies Network through supporting regional workforce capacity development and strengthening clinical/professional organisations
ASHM, with current members of the Regional Professional Societies Network (the Network), seeks to expand and strengthen the Network so that professional societies could play a more effective role in the region. Some are strong, some are quite weak, and in some countries there are no formal organisations, but there may be groups of clinicians.
The cut to Australian Aid and Development over the past 12 months has resulted in less support for HIV programs, as well limited transfer of funds and programs to viral hepatitis and STIs. While there is some support for a broader sexual and reproductive health, this does not specifically include STI and communicable diseases.
ASHM's support to a small number of organisations as to function as a network, has now stopped. However, if there is commitment and willingness to do so, professional societies can organise and do quite a bit of work without large funding bases. Growing these networks is the renewed focus for ASHM's work regionally. This includes supporting activities such as South-South and North-South collaborations, mentoring and opportunities for sharing ideas and experiences.
Regional Professional Society Assembly
The First Assembly of the Regional Societies Network on HIV, Viral Hepatitis & Sexual Health will be held in Bangkok, from 15-17 January, 2016.
The Assembly is proposed as an opportunity to bring Professional Societies together as a significant group, along with professional development and workforce organisations and groups where these exist to look at how to strengthen this group.
There was discussion about wanting to include viral hepatitis as well and sexual health.
The International Advisory Board agreed that the primary focus of the Assembly is being development of capacity, through collaboration, information sharing and cooperation of professional societies and related organisations, in:
- Research and its application to clinical and prevention practice;
- Policy development and influence in policy process; and
- Professional development and Mentoring.
One of the issues to consider in the further development and organisation of the Assembly includes looking at how the Network would like to progress its activities.