How UNInnovator Prepared a Pandemic-Ready Training

Editor's note:

Story written by and all photos from UNI Project Coordinator YG Lee

October 22, 2020

In preparation for launching the virtual intervention UNInnovator, the UNI Project held a five-day training for intervention with  facilitators from all three study cities.

Drawing on the importance of peers in sharing health tips to improve lives, the UNI Project, based at the Global Health Research Center of Central Asia (GHRCCA), created an intervention called UNInnovator. Briefly, the intervention focuses on collaborating with men of sexual and gender diversity (including cisgender men and transgender people who have sex with men) in Kazakhstan’s three most populous cities--Almaty, Nursultan, and Shymkent--on promoting HIV care continuum engagement within and across their social networks.

As of March 2020, the intervention had been implemented, in-person, in all three study cities; however, the COVID-19 pandemic and relevant physical-distancing measures have provided an opportunity to expand the intervention into a virtual setting.

Common objects like umbrellas, shoes, and purses

In preparation for launching the virtual intervention, the UNI Project held a five-day training for intervention facilitators from all three study cities. For the Project’s very first time (and in accordance with physical-distancing protocols), the training was conducted entirely virtually. 

Day 2, intervention session demonstration led by Shymkent Site Coordinator Karina Alipova

The virtual training aimed to orient facilitators to a virtual environment, and enhance their preparedness for facilitating the intervention within it. 

The training included skill-building exercises focused on creatively and safely incorporating digital/teleconference communication technologies, and also covered strategies for handling technological hiccups and/or social disruptions that may arise in a virtual environment.

Project Director Vitaliy Vinogradov leading an icebreaker activity

The countdown to the virtual launching of UNInnovator has begun. Meanwhile, the UNI Project will continue to work with the intervention facilitators on preparing digital intervention materials, honing facilitation skills, and planning for participant invitation (back) to UNInnovator.

Intervention Consultant Aidar Yelkeyev and Research Assistant Valeriya Davydova demonstrate crowdsourcing on Google Maps

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