UNODC's South Asia regional project titled "Prevention of transmission of HIV among Drug Users in SAARC Countries" (RAS/H13) is in the process of scaling up its activities in Sri Lanka, as part of the country's work plan for the Phase II of the project.
As a first step to this process, all of the eight partner NGOs of the project are being supported to work closely with the "larger community" at the demonstration sites and to create an enabling environment to carry out low cost community based care and support (LCCS) programmes for recovering/current drug users and their regular sex partners. This is being made possible by complementing the drop-in-centre approach along with this community based low cost approach, which targets the current drug users and their regular sex partners in hard to reach settings. This component of the project builds on the need to deliver services in settings where there is little/no access to services for drug users and their regular sex partners.
On 25 August 2008, the first ever LCCS programme was organized by a project partner in the Galle district of Sri Lanka. This was followed by the organization of subsequent
LCCS programmes in different parts of Sri Lanka with support from the project team and Sri Lanka's National Dangerous Drug Control Board (NDDCB), also the national focal point of the project.
These LCCS programmes were organized using the Project H13 (UNODC's) protocol on Low Cost Community Based Care and Support (LCCS), as part of the comprehensive package of service delivery aimed at the prevention of transmission of HIV amongst vulnerable drug using populations.
As preparatory work, each project partner disseminated information within the selected community through their staff members and through a series of advocacy meetings, aimed at mobilizing/involving community members and resources. These advocacy meetings also helped to disseminate information among the community members on the purpose and scope of the LCCS programmes. The NGO teams, in consultation with important/influential community members, finalized the venue, logistics and a campaign plan to reach out to most unreached populations.
The LCCS programmes were very successful which was evident from the large number of clients who registered themselves for the 15 days of the programme period. Additionally, there was participation from key stakeholders including police, corporates, NGOs/CBOs, government agencies (health, youth, education & employment) and local community leaders.