Georgetown University and its partners will cultivate participation to develop a network of faith-based HIV/AIDS responders throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. The University will assist the network in developing best practices and provide technical assistance to increase these organizations' efficiency and capacity in monitoring and evaluation practices, with the goal of assisting these organizations in increasing their funding and thus in scaling up their AIDS response.
Year 1 of the project involves the development of a network and a needs assessment conducted by members of the network and assisted by Georgetown University. The needs assessment will be conducted and the network will be developed through two mechanisms: (1) a survey; and, (2) a series of interactive conferences and focus groups at the University and in sub-Saharan Africa. Through convening conferences and meetings, interviewing participants, and using mechanisms such as focus groups and surveys, Georgetown will help to establish relationships between participants, assess needs, and help participants to determine how they envision such networking meeting their needs.
While faith-based organizations (FBOs) provide up to forty percent of all health care in a number of the poorer countries, these organizations do not receive a commensurate share of international donor funding, notably receiving only 4-5% of Global Fund outlays. These groups are under-resourced and often stretched beyond reasonable capacity and, therefore, largely unable to invest in coordination efforts, seek advantages of scale, and invest heavily in antiretroviral treatment provision.
As a Catholic and Jesuit institution built more than two hundred years ago as a community of scholarly communities, Georgetown University has an identity and a history of collaborative experience to support the development of networking between FBOs responding to HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa. By building relationships with FBOs, Georgetown will help to promote greater effectiveness in the distribution of resources and improve outcomes in HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment, accruing direct benefits to these FBOs - the organizations with the largest capacity for current provision of services and scalability.
Georgetown University's role in this project will rely on principles of participatory involvement, the philosophy of involving and engaging a targeted community, in this case HIV/AIDS-focused providers in Sub-Saharan Africa, at the outset of the planning process. In contrast to self-defined research, the key features of participatory research involve community input. Georgetown's contributors and partners on this project will support the active engagement of network participants in developing individualized professional strategic plans that will become embedded in their collective response to HIV/AIDS. Because participatory action involves community partners as colleagues, the University's team members will demonstrate respect for the values, beliefs, and needs of the faith-based health care providers and other stakeholders in their partner countries.
Georgetown and its partners in this project are connected with smaller networks of FBOs that have developed contact and some level of trust. Georgetown will build on existing networks of faith-based health care providers, relying on relationships with partners who have become some of the key network facilitators and further developing a network including other faith- and community-based HIV/AIDS health care providers.