International Consultant Providing Technical Assistance For Estimation Of The Drug Users’ Population Size

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A. General description

In the Republic of Moldova the overall rate of newly diagnosed cases of HIV infection has continued to grow rapidly over the decade and is now the fourth highest of all countries in the region. By the end of 2020, the total number of new HIV cases registered in the country (including Transnistria) reached the figure of 14,380, ranging from about 700 (2009) to about 900 (2019) of new HIV cases registered annually. Information on the way of transmission was missing for 33% of newly diagnosed cases. Heterosexual transmission is reported to be the main way of transmission, with 90.3% of new cases reported in 2020, while transmission in case of injectable drugs use accounted for 3.1%, mother-to-child transmission – for 2.4% and cases of men having sex with men accounted for 4.2% of new cases.

The new National Program for HIV/AIDS and STIs Prevention and Control for the years 2021-2025 (NPM) which is in the process of approval by the Government of the Republic of Moldova provides for priority interventions within the national response to HIV/AIDS. Prevention of HIV infection, especially in key populations for achieving the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets and effective management of the national program by coordinating the activities of all sectors and actors using effective monitoring and evaluation systems are among the main priorities of the national program. The effects of preliminary programmatic interventions, identification of the main priority preventive interventions in key populations, identification of risk groups can be done only on the basis of evidence collected during research and studies.

According to the Integrated Bio-Behavioral Survey (IBBS) of 2019/2020, the estimated HIV prevalence among IDUs was 11.4%; the estimated HIV prevalence among sex workers (SW) was 2.7%; the estimated HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men was 11.4%. According to the programmatic data, the indicators for covering the program with prevention services focused on IDUs were not achieved due to the changes on the drug market, transition to non-injectable use and massive appearance of new psychoactive substances (NPS). According to the IBBS 2019-2020 survey, in Chisinau municipality the most used drugs within the last 6 months were new psychoactive substances in the form of powder, crystals or pills mentioned by 55.4% of respondents and 33.5% of respondents from Balti municipality. Following the results of a study on the use of new psychoactive substances in Moldova and Belarus, the proportion of clients who switched from opium and amphetamines to the use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) by smoking or inhalation is increasing. For harm reduction programs, the main difficulty in working with consumers of non-injectable NPS is the impossibility of registering them as beneficiaries of the program, because, according to the regulations, injectable use is an essential criterion for their inclusion into the program. The absence of information on the extent of the drug use phenomenon, not just injectable drugs, and the absence of information on harm reduction services provided in case of non-injectable drugs use, including NSP, requires a number of activities regarding the estimation of the size of the drug users group based on existing sources or justification for conducting a research, which would help to improve the data set used for this purpose. The current NP involves activities aimed at a more detailed study and solution to this problem.

B. Purpose of the consultancy

The purpose of this consultancy is to provide technical assistance for estimating the size of the group of drug users on both banks of the Dniester River in the Republic of Moldova.

C. Objectives

Review of all existing data, such as routine statistics, programmatic data, biological and behavioural surveys for to provide a prospect on the study variables and to guide the analysis and subsequent interpretation of the data with the support of the HIV Program coordination unit;

Review of the specialised literature on estimation methods, data triangulation for to estimate the size of the drug users group;

Identification of the needs for additional data and research and making recommendations on the relevant options for collecting such data;

Development of the methodology for estimating the size of the drug users group, and elaboration of the data collection tool if necessary;

Analysis, triangulation of collected data and estimation of the population of drug users;

Drafting of the report estimating the number of DUs on the territory of the Republic of Moldova;

Consultation and adjustment of the estimates obtained following the exercise with the key partners and TWG on HIV prevention of the NCC.

D. Expected results

The consultant shall elaborate the following outputs:

(1) Work plan on the mission, needs and agenda for conducting additional studies;

(2) Table with data for estimation of the DUs group size;

(3) Estimated number of DUs in the Republic of Moldova agreed with the national partners;

(4) Report on size estimation of the group of drug users.

E. Required education and qualifications

The consultant must have the following qualifications and expertise:

General Qualifications (30%)

Advanced academic qualifications in Public Health, Sociology or other relevant field, proven by holding a university degree from a recognized university, as well as qualification in schooling methodologies and knowledge transfer required for providing education programs; At least 10 years of experience in public health or social sciences, including at least 8 years in the field of HIV epidemiology and programmatic response; Knowledge of key strategic documents of WHO, UNAIDS and other international HIV concerned agencies; In-depth knowledge in designing population size estimation exercises (protocol, data collection tools, training of research staff, surveillance) and conducting at least one estimation exercise regarding hidden population size, using the respondent-driven sampling (RDS) based on “snowball sampling” model. Relevant experience (40%)

At least 10 years of work experience in international public health, including monitoring and evaluation of HIV/AIDS programs, IBBS; Strong knowledge of RDS methodology and senior expertise in conducting Behavioural Surveillance using Respondent Driven Sampling, starting from the protocol development stage, development of survey tools, training of research staff, conducting and supervising IBSS and analytical reporting, as well as interpretation of data and recommendations drafting; Previous work experience and knowledge of the context of the EECA region, knowledge of the context of the Republic of Moldova is an asset; Excellent experience with WHO or other UN agencies. Other qualifications (30%):

Excellent report writing skills; Excellent spoken and written English skills; Desirable experience of work in the Republic of Moldova; Knowledge of Russian or Romanian languages will be an asset. F. Duration of services and terms of payment

The consultancy is due to start in December 2021 and end in June 2022 at the latest, with 30 June 2022 being the deadline for submitting the report with the estimated data for the key groups that are validated and agreed by the national partners.

Payment will be made upon the completion of the assignment, when the report on the estimated population of drug users will be presented.

The consultant shall work in cooperation with the team of national consultants and HIV Program Coordination Unit. The consultant shall coordinate the activities with the Coordinator of HIV Program and PAS Center team.

How to apply The Center for Health Policies and Studies (PAS Center) is currently implementing the “Strengthening Tuberculosis control and reducing AIDS related mortality in the Republic of Moldova” Project, which is funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and intends to apply part of the proceeds to provide technical assistance for estimating the size of the group of drug users on both banks of the Dniester River in the Republic of Moldova.

The PAS Center now invites eligible international individual consultant to indicate their interest in providing the services. Interested consultants must provide information indicating that they are qualified to perform the services. The Consultants are hereby invited to submit their updated CV. Please note that the PAS Center is not bound to accept any of the CVs.

The selection of consultants will be carried out in accordance with the procedures set out in the World Bank’s Guidelines: Selection and Employment of Consultants by World Bank Borrowers (June 2014).

The PAS Center will select a consultant on the basis of comparison of consultant’s qualifications for the assignment and conformity with the TOR’s requirements.

First-hand information about the ToR can be obtained from the person below during office hours 09.00 to 18.00.

Lucia Pirtina – Program Coordinator, PAS Center

E-mail: lucia.pirtina@pas.md

The deadline for submission of Consultant’s CV is December 6, 2021, 6:00 PM o’clock, Moldova local time

CVs can be submitted by e-mail to the address bellow:

E-mail: cezar.captaciuc@pas.md*

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