Instead of focusing on the knowledge and behaviours of individuals, GAP focuses on the policy, media, and civil society environments in which those most affected by the disease find themselves. This strategy arises from an in-depth consultation process over a number of years with the Southern Panos Institutes around the world. Since 2001, GAP staff have been shared across offices, and have built integrated networks of partners and frameworks for cross-Panos cooperation on HIV/AIDS. GAP convened a strategy meeting in Lusaka, Zambia in 2002 with representatives from all the offices and then finalised the strategy through dialogue across the network.
One key thread that emerged from this process is a focus on the local: Panos supports a locally owned, locally driven, Southern-guided series of activities designed to use communication to address HIV/AIDS. Locally-generated activities become a tool to inform and challenge the way in which the HIV/AIDS pandemic is addressed at national, regional, and global levels. Each Panos office in the network carries out a series of activities with the media, civil society, and national and regional policymakers, selecting methods tailored to each setting.
For example, GAP works with local networks of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and interest groups representing women or youth. The approach here involves supporting the communities most affected by HIV/AIDS in determining and articulating their own agendas to both the media and policymakers. Activities include oral testimony programmes, training to help provide the skills and capacity needed to participate in the policy discourse, and radio listening clubs. The latter activity involves bringing disenfranchised groups into dialogue with those in power: Participants discuss issues relating to HIV/AIDS among themselves; their voices are recorded. This material is then taken to a recording studio and played to a panel of experts or policymakers or other key public figures. The experts comment on the points made by the first group, and their voices are edited in to the original recording; the entire programme is broadcast on
national radio. This type of media work is designed to create environments in which indigenous, participatory processes can flourish.
Lessons learned from these and other local activities are shared with international audiences through presentations, workshops and seminars, a range of reports and media resources, and the GAP website. Other channels include Interworld Radio (an international broadcast initiative using web technologies) and Panos Features (a monthly syndicated print service commissioning Southern journalists to cover development-related stories). This information is also disseminated through established regional media channels in local languages, where appropriate. A key aim here to help ensure that the voices of Southern actors are heard within the mainstream Northern media, and that Southern stakeholders have a better understanding of Northern-based policy and donor processes.
Advocacy is another GAP strategy. Panos works to encourage balanced, accurate HIV/AIDS reporting through the media initiatives described above. In addition, GAP works with policymakers in an effort to stimulate informed and inclusive public debate and decision making related to HIV/AIDS. Activities here might include national discussion days, policy briefings, and workshops bringing together PLWHA and decision makers.
GAP's 2007-2011 programme focuses on continuing to promote participation, ownership, and accountability towards universal access to AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support. Key strategies during this period will include:
- Enabling those most affected by HIV and AIDS in different countries to communicate their concerns and perspectives through documentation, capacity-building, communication platforms, and networking among organisations working with PLWHA and the media.
- Holding policy and decision makers accountable for those most affected by developing critical analysis on policy, law and funding, and needs; strategically disseminating this information and analysis; and building the capacity of civil society and media actors to monitor and hold to account policy and decision makers.
- Increasing active involvement of the media in the HIV and AIDS response through capacity building, sensitisation sessions, support for journalist networks, and research.
- Stimulating informed and inclusive public and policy debate on poorly understood HIV and AIDS issues.
- Strengthening HIV communication thinking and practice through engaged critical analysis of contemporary HIV communication initiatives, technical input into smaller programme-related working groups on communication, and development of new communication approaches.
Founded in 1986, the Panos Institute works to raise awareness of neglected or poorly understood development issues and aims to enable marginalised sectors of society to communicate their concerns. A key goal is promoting informed dialogue and debate on sustainable development, with particular emphasis on amplifying the voices of those marginalised and most affected by development challenges. The Panos network also promotes the plurality and diversity of the media by helping foster the communication activities of community and information organisations worldwide. Panos has a decentralised structure that includes autonomous offices in London, Paris, and Washington. Panos London, in turn, works with a group of autonomous, regional centres in the South: Panos Southern Africa, Panos Eastern Africa, Panos South Asia, Panos Caribbean and Central America.
Nairobi), DFID (Kampala), UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund), KANCO (Kenyan AIDS NGO Consortium).
Emails from Johanna Hanefeld to The Communication Initiative on December 2 2004, January 10 2005, and February 9 2005; "Promoting participation, ownership and accountability within the response to HIV/AIDS. A six year programme proposal from Global Panos AIDS Network" [PDF]; GAP website; and "Panos Global AIDS Programme 2007-2011", sent via email from Ronald D. Kayanja to The Communication Initiative on May 8 2007.