Partners in Progress: The Global Fund's Support of MENAHRA's Harm Reduction Efforts with Religious Leaders in the MENA Region



The Middle East and North Africa Harm Reduction Association (MENAHRA) is dedicated to improving the lives of people who use drugs through advocacy, capacity building, and technical assistance.


The organization's goal of advocating for the implementation of harm reduction strategies, which have been proven to be effective in preventing the spread of HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C among people who inject drugs (PWID), is made possible through its partnership with religious leaders, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders.


In 2014, MENAHRA published the "Religious Leaders Manual on Harm Reduction," a comprehensive guide in Arabic Language1 that covers the scientific facts about substance abuse, HIV, stigma and discrimination, and harm reduction, and the Global Fund has been instrumental in supporting these efforts. The manual also includes information on communication and advocacy skills, as well as the role that religious leaders can play in promoting harm reduction.


As part of its three-year plan (2019-2021), MENAHRA has continued to work with religious leaders to educate them about harm reduction and to support their advocacy efforts. The following activities have taken place:

• In 2019, MENAHRA organized a religious leaders' conference to review and update the 2014 guide and brainstorm the structure of a training module.


• In 2020, Part 4 of the 2014 publication's guide was developed, and thereafter MENAHRA organized an online training of trainers (TOT).

• In 2021, the trained religious leaders began educating other religious figures and local communities about harm reduction in their region.

• In 2022, a favorable shift in attitude regarding the Harm Reduction approach, programs, and religious leaders' dedication to the cause was observed during the advocacy training for religious leaders.

In 2022, MENAHRA conducted a three-day advocacy training program for religious leaders in Beirut. The training was participant-centered, allowing participants to share their experiences, build advocacy interventions, and simulate their roles as advocates.


While MENAHRA has no current activities with religious leaders in 2023, the organization remains committed to its mission of improving the lives of people who use drugs through advocacy, capacity building, and technical assistance in the Middle East and North African region. 


World TB Day 2023: Fighting TB in the MENA Region


Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection that affects different parts of the body, including the lungs, and can be transmitted from person to person through the air. Although TB is preventable and treatable, it remains a significant public health challenge in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, especially in low-socio-economic communities with limited access to healthcare and high rates of malnutrition.


People living with HIV are at a higher risk of developing TB, which is the primary cause of death among them. Unfortunately, the MENA region has a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, which exacerbates the burden of TB. Ending TB is crucial, especially for people living with HIV, as TB can impede their access to HIV treatment and care. Moreover, TB typically affects young adults, which leads to reduced productivity and earnings. By eliminating TB, we can not only save lives but also promote economic development and enhance the quality of life for people living with HIV.


Several initiatives have been launched to address the issue of TB in the MENA region. The Stop TB Partnership, a global initiative established in 2000, aims to eliminate TB as a public health problem by supporting countries in their efforts to implement effective TB control programs. Additionally, World TB Day is observed annually to raise awareness about the signs and symptoms of TB, encourage people to seek medical attention if they experience symptoms, and promote the importance of completing treatment for TB.


Working together, we can end TB and create a healthier and more prosperous future for all, particularly for people living with HIV. Raising awareness of the link between HIV and TB and taking action to eliminate TB once and for all is essential.

MENAHRA and RANAA collaborate to strengthen HIV/AIDS response in the MENA region.



On February 20 and 21, the MENAHRA team closely collaborated with the Regional Arab Network against AIDS (RANAA) to evaluate RANAA's programmatic and financial activities of the previous two years and strategize for the upcoming period. 

Together, they identified objectives and developed a suitable strategy to achieve them, ensuring that RANAA's mission is in line with MENAHRA's broader harm reduction goals. This collaboration is a part of MENAHRA's strategic intervention to conduct capacity building for civil society organizations (CSOs) on various related topics.

RANAA is dedicated to enhancing the capabilities of its networks and members by offering technical assistance and capacity building in various organizational and thematic domains. Their ultimate aim is to strengthen civil society in the MENA region to work towards achieving zero new HIV/AIDS incidence and low mortality rates while ensuring the realization of health rights for key populations (KPs) and people living with HIV (PLHIV).

By collaborating with RANAA, MENAHRA is working towards strengthening the HIV/AIDS response in the MENA region by conducting capacity building for CSOs on various related topics. Together, they aim to improve the support, treatment, and care for PLHIV and KPs and help them live without stigma and discrimination while having access to their health rights.

The ongoing collaboration between MENAHRA and RANAA is a significant stride in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the MENA region, emphasizing the significance of partnership and cooperation among organizations working towards a shared objective.



Nadoum Grant Supports MENA Region in Strengthening HIV Services for Key Populations.


Frontline AIDS organized a regional review and replanning (R&R) workshop in Amman, Jordan under the Nadoum regional grant. The objective of the workshop was to integrate learning, strategic partnerships across implementing partners within identified thematic areas, strategic communication, and strategic advocacy initiatives into the programme.


The Nadoum grant is an initiative that focuses on sustaining services for key populations in the MENA region.

The countries targeted by the grant include Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and Tunisia. The grant's objective is to reduce human rights-related barriers to HIV services, including testing, treatment, and care. It aims to promote social mobilization, build community linkages, and increase political engagement to strengthen national health strategies.


To achieve these objectives, the Nadoum grant has brought together partners from across the MENA region to discuss and plan interventions within three thematic areas. These interventions aimed at collectively integrating strategic collaboration, communication, and advocacy into the work plan. One of the key priorities of the Nadoum grant is to strengthen civil society so that it can promote the change they need, especially for key populations.


MENAHRA, the Middle East and North Africa Harm Reduction Association is one of the implementing partners under the Nadoum grant. As part of its role in the Nadoum grant, MENAHRA provides technical assistance and support to national implementing partners in the areas of harm reduction, advocacy, and communication.

The Nadoum grant is an important step towards improving the health and well-being of communities affected by HIV in the MENA region. It is crucial that initiatives like the Nadoum grant continue to receive support to ensure that key populations in the region have access to the HIV services they need.


The MENA region needs sustained services for key populations, and initiatives like the Nadoum grant can help bridge the gap in HIV-related interventions in the region.








Empowering Women Living with HIV (WLHIV) to become agents of change.


Over the years, MENA Rosa, aimed at strengthening the skills and knowledge, as well as empowering and educating WLHIV to become agents of change, peer educators, and outreach workers in the community.


Thus, since its establishment in 2010, MENA Rosa, the first regional network of Women Living with HIV (WLHIV) in the MENA Region, conducted several trainings and workshops targeting directly its focal points and members; these trainings focused on several subjects, included but not limited to: treatment literacy, gender norms and equality, leadership, advocacy, negotiation and communication skills, Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH), mental health, etc.

To tackle this issue, in 2021, under the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria (GFATM) grant HIV: Sustainability of Services for Key Population in MENA region”, Nadoum Programme, in which MENAHRA is as Sub Recipient (SR);  MENA Rosa, a Sub-Sub-Recipient (SSR), has drafted a treatment literacy informative toolkit in English and Arabic, that aims to expand the quality care, treatment, support and prevention services to reach Women Living with and affected by HIV, their children and families.


In alignment with Meaningful Involvement of People Living with HIV/AIDS (MIPA) principles, which aims to recognize the rights and responsibilities of People Living with HIV (PLHIV), including their right to self-esteem and participation in decision-making, MENA Rosa in November and December 2022, conducted a 4-days Training on the Treatment Literacy Toolkit, in Jordan and Egypt. The training’s primary goal was to evaluate and update the toolkit mentioned above, as well as educate MENA Rosa’s focal points and members on the importance of treatment adherence, and equip the focal points and members with the knowledge, skills, and actions needed to address issues on treatment, stigma and peer support to become positive agents of change.

This Toolkit is in line with the 95-95-95 UNAIDS objective: MENA Rosa’s Focal Points will be able to disseminate acquired information during their local outreach intervention with the Key Populations (KPs).

MENA Rosa’s Focal Points, members, WLHIV from different cities in both countries (Jordan: Amman, Zarqa; Egypt: Alexandria, Minya, Cairo), Sudanese refugees (in Egypt), and outreach workers participated in the ToT; they shared personal stories, and most importantly commented and provided feedback on the Toolkit.

During these trainings, MENA Rosa partnered with local CSOs and key stakeholders - in Egypt: with National Aids Program (NAP), UNAIDS, Friends Association in Minya and Sohati men Biati in Giza - in Jordan: with Forearms of Change Center to Enable Community (FOCCEC) and the Voluntary Counseling and Testing center (VCT).

These conducted trainings emphasized the importance of interchanging experiences and encouraging frequent communication among WLHIV; enabling enhanced support to each other.

In 2023, under this grant, MENA Rosa will implement the same training: one in Morocco and one in Tunisia.

WLHIV can serve as agents of change in their communities; MENA Rosa’s is empowering them with all the information, knowledge, capacities, and skills required to raise and spread awareness and accurate information; and minimize misconceptions about HIV.

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