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FOREWORD

Aastha is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and is a pioneering project implemented by FHI 360. The project works towards STI and HIV prevention among male, female and transgender sex workers (SWs) in Mumbai and Thane, Maharashtra. Aastha has been recognized for its community engagement approach and superior quality intervention at the strategic as well as at the grass roots level. The best practices and innovations in Aastha are not limited only to the project. The team members document and disseminate their learning across public and private sector organizations to facilitate similar and better quality interventions in the HIV and AIDS sector. FHI 360 is a global development organization with a rigorous, evidence-based approach. FHI 360’s contributions to the HIV and AIDS sector are noteworthy and recommendations from Aastha’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) have been included in the National Guidelines for Targeted Interventions.

This document captures the Aastha Continuous Quality Approach (ACQUA), a philosophy which is based on the constant endeavor of the project to innovate, achieve existing goals, relook the existing strategies with a magnifier and strengthen the process further by constantly improvising to suit project needs. For Aastha, ACQUA is a way of thinking and doing which enables the project to leave a mark above excellence. The project constantly aspires for collaborative quality improvement and at all times aims to innovate strategies to reach out to High Risk Groups (HRGs) with superior quality services. ACQUA refers to achieving targets, surpassing benchmarks and constantly striving towards a new goal post.

Vertically, ACQUA works at all levels – the operational, the tactical and the strategic. This integration across levels is also another thrust of this document. Public private partnerships, human resource management, implementation of project activities, advocacy and high community involvement – ACQUA can be applied in all of these parallel and horizontal components. The easy applicability of this Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) in Aastha results in a grassroot set up, the cost effectiveness of the intervention and facilitates achievements and innovations within the limited resources. This quality improvement processes and their resulting impact has also been documented to indicate the success percentage of the technique.

We hope this document proves useful to other such interventions and inspires a focus towards the objectives of the continuous and cyclic progress towards consistent performance and excellence. This document can be used by organizations working with HRGs to ceaselessly reach beyond their standards and find new avenues to achieve their targets. As a further course of action, FHI 360 also plans to develop an ACQUA Manual with Standard Operating Procedures for effective inclusion of CQI technique in the TI routine.

Dr Sanjeevsingh Gaikwad
Director, Maharashtra Program,
FHI 360