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Civilians and the Ethiopian National Defense Force collaborate for better health

October 24, 2014

“Timir” is an Amharic word meaning “intertwined” or “linked.” FHI 360’s TIMIR Sexual HIV Prevention for Most-at-Risk Populations/Vulnerable Groups at Civil-Military Interface Settings project in Ethiopia does just that — create a link between civilians and the military to address HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and reproductive health issues.

To strengthen this link, TIMIR helped to develop local civil-military alliance task forces. Each task force includes stakeholders such as the Ethiopian National Defense Force and the Ministry of Women’s, Children and Youth Affairs, as well as national and local health departments. As of August 2014, TIMIR had established 15 civil-military alliance task forces in five regions and one administrative city.

TIMIR boosts the effectiveness of these task forces by:

  • Increasing the capacity of task force members to manage HIV prevention programs
  • Facilitating dialogues between key stakeholders to enhance program implementation and follow-ups
  • Organizing community-wide sensitization events on HIV, STIs and other health topics and providing HIV and STI prevention services
  • Initiating joint mentoring and supportive supervision of program activities
  • Establishing peer-to-peer education sessions with at-risk groups
  • Facilitating the sharing of experiences between civilians, the military and health care providers
  • Soliciting financial and technical support for targeted activities

The alliance formed between these two groups is critical to guaranteeing a comprehensive and sustainable HIV prevention program. Through the alliance, resources such as antiretroviral therapy, test kits and behavior change communications are now shared between public and military health facilities. For example, if a public health facility runs out of HIV test kits, it can borrow from a military health facility, and vice versa.

The task forces have also encouraged the sharing of best practices for program intervention. Today, the task forces use peer education programs designed for the military as a model for other peer education programs to ensure the consistency of information. Using the task force forum, which is an official meeting of interested participants, stakeholders have been able to assess the risk factors and behaviors in their communities, thus improving the awareness of and preparedness for addressing local health issues.

TIMIR Sexual HIV Prevention for Most-at-Risk Populations/Vulnerable Groups at Civil-Military Interface Settings is funded by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the U.S. Department of Defense HIV Prevention Program.

Read more about our work in Ethiopia