Vision: All people in Albania are equal and free to make their own choices about reproductive health and to enjoy physical, mental, social, and economic well-being.
Mission: Respond to the changing needs of the SRH population, protect human rights, including sexual and reproductive rights, and provide information and services, especially to vulnerable groups, youth, and women
Goals: Ensure the Albanian Government adopts and implements sound national policies on SRHR, gender equality and women; and an increasing number of youth participate in decision-making and politics; Women, youth and vulnerable groups are empowered to demand and enjoy their rights, including SRHR, and are involved in national and local processes that affect their lives; SRH quality services is integrated, accessible, and affordable for all groups, especially vulnerable groups; ACPD maintains its leading role in SRHR through high quality work and sustainable programs.
Values: volunteerism, partnership, cooperation, commitment, passion, diversity, accountability
The Albanian Center for Population and Development (ACPD) is a non-for-profit organization, established in January 1993 which works for improvement of policies and legislation on population issues including reproductive health; promotion and provision of equal access to quality information, accessible and affordable services and education, in particular for young people and vulnerable groups; gender, human trafficking and provision of reproductive health services to the survivors of violence. Over the years, ACPD has implemented more than 170 projects in the interest of its beneficiaries.
ACPD works for the improvement of the health and wellbeing of all people in Albania, in particular vulnerable and marginalized groups, by:
- Advocating appropriate legislation and policies including the field of reproductive health and rights; Raising awareness among the population, and groups at risk, in respect of healthy life styles and human rights;
- Eliminating barriers to equal participation of men and women in all aspects of economic, political, social life;
- Preventing gender-based violence and human trafficking and providing protection to the survivors of violence;
- Promoting and providing equal access to quality information, accessible and affordable services and supplies and education, in particular for young people and vulnerable groups.
ACPD provides high-quality, innovative, demand-driven services to stakeholders, aiming at the highest benefit for them. ACPD also provided a gateway for dialogue, networking and cooperation among stakeholders and partners on regional, national and local levels.
The organization has created a sustainable partnership with national and international organizations and Government of Albania. ACPD has a long term partnership and collaboration with United Nation Population Fund in Albania (UNFPA). Also ACPD is a member of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) since 1996 and accredited by its governing council in three consecutive processes. It has established a long-term partnership through programs and projects with European Commission, USAID, SEATS, UNICEF, Save the Children, Partners Albania For Change and Development; SOS Village, Global Fund, DFID, Womankind Worldwide, UNWOMEN, UNESCO Center for Women and Peace in Balkan Countries, OLAF PALME, NOVIB, European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development, and some foreign Embassies accredited in the country etc. ACPD is part of several national, regional and international networks and coalitions including ASTRA, Inter-Balkans women’s cooperation societies and UNESCO Center for Women and Peace in Balkan Countries, Monitoring the gender-based violence network in Albania; Sexual Reproductive Health Network; HIV and AIDS network; Youth Voice etc.
ACPD with support of donors has achieved sustainable success in sexual and reproductive health field; gender equality and women’s empowerment; young people and population issues, policy development etc.
ACPD applies policies and standards approved by its General Assembly. It is led by a board of recognized experts in the field of population and reproductive health and rights, social issues, gender issues, migration etc. It has a permanent staff around 15 people, who are qualified specialists.
The organization has three branches located in (central) Tirana, (south) Vlora, (north) Shkodra and focal points in Elbasan and Durres, with 206 active members and activists. Apart from that ACPD has set up groups of volunteers and coordinators in other districts as well through its project’s implementation.
- ACPD social and health service centers
ACPD is a pioneer in the field of services for women’s reproductive health and has created 3 centers which have functioned as a model and good practices for services in state structures.
ACPD has extended its activity in three strategic areas of the country respectively in the north, center and south. It has established multi-functional centers such as “AULONA” Center in Vlora (1998), women center in Tirana (2000)”, Trokitja Center in Shkodra (2001) and service centers in Durres and Lezha.
These centers have contributed to the good governance at local and national level; women, youth and civil society organizations empowerment; improved access to reproductive health care and rights and social services for Albanian women and young people.
A special feature of the ACPD clinics is the provision of youth friendly services which has led to the constant increase of young people who access them.
ACPD have already developed an integrated package of services. This package has already been offered free of charge to Roma, Egyptian, and to poor young clients that visit the clinics. Medical staff of the clinics is highly qualified on the comprehensive contraceptive methods and other sexual and reproductive health services.
- Pre and Post Abortion Services
For more than 10 years, ACPD has provided 70,000 legal and psychosocial counselling, reproductive health (SRH) services to young people and underserved women and men including: cervical cancer prevention (pap test, counselling and treatment of pre-cancer lesions with cryotherapy, ultrasound examination, HIV rapid test and counselling, pre and post abortion care, sexual transmitted infections (STI) counselling, and relationships counselling through two clinics based in Tirana and Vlora and community-based delivery and mobile clinics. ACPD has contributed to the capacity building of government structures through trainings, publications, support for protocols etc.
ACPD is contributing to the implementation of the Action Plan for Elderly 2019-2023 through establishment of an elderly center in Vlora which will contribute to the rights of the elderly for protection, health care and their integration in the society. The facility of the center based in the setting of a professional school of Vlora offered by Vlora Municipality serves as safe environment for elderly in need and will offer despite others health and social care, and social interaction. A MoU was agreed between ACPD and the Municipality.
ACPD has acquired a lot of expertise related to advocacy and lobbying activities regarding reproductive health and rights with special focus in women and youth. ACPD advocacy work is done in local and national level consisting in drafting, lobbing of several laws, strategies and guidelines; establishment of collaboration with local and national institutions to achieve commitments on SRHR, gender, population issues.
ACPD has rendered a special contribution in: drafting and lobbying for the approval of the Law on Reproductive Health (2000); new Reproductive Health Strategy (2017-2021); Albanian National Contraceptive Security Strategy (2017 – 2021). ACPD in close partnership with key stakeholders, has compiled and updated guidelines for Family Planning, Youth Friendly Services, Cervical Cancer, for the Use of Antiretroviral Medicines for the Treatment and Prevention of HIV Infection and the respective protocols and advocated for their approval by the Ministry of Health and Social Protection.
ACPD played an important role since 2000 regarding drafting, lobbying for Law on Reproductive Health, including a hearing in parliament. In 2019, ACPD initiated the work on revision of the Law on Reproductive Health, which based on a desk review was identified with gaps and areas for improvement. An order of Minister no (716, date 28/202019) was released, establishing a technical group to work on law revision. A new Draft-Law (2021) is developed and it is expected to be presented to the parliament for approval.
Due to advocacy efforts led by ACPD and other key stakeholders the Ministry of Health’s Emergency Platform now includes a reproductive health strategy on the Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP), a set of priority reproductive-health and HIV activities to be implemented at the onset of a humanitarian emergency (conflict or natural disaster). The MoHSP approved the order no. 428 date 04/10/2016 “On the approval of the strategy document on sexual and reproductive health in case of crisis and humanitarian emergency”.
A factsheet on MISP of SRH was developed with updated information on latest situation in Albania, achievements of ACPD in the context of earthquake and Covid-19 including capacity building activities all over the country, provision of services and advocacy wins.
ACPD advocacy efforts in partnership with UNFPA and IPPF led to the start of the new national screening program for cervical cancer in 2019. It is based on a Decree of Council of Ministers of Albania (no 47, date 30/01/2019). Under the new program, all primary screening tests and further examinations are being provided for free at the point of care, regardless of the patients’ health insurance status.
A new case-based hospital registry is established to allow exchange of information among gynaecological hospitals where colposcopy is performed, and institute of Public Health, the national coordinating centre of the program. The new information system will facilitate the calculation of essential indicators of the program.
During the earthquake of 2019 and Pandemic of Covid -19, Shkodra and Vlora National Resource Centers (NRC) branches collected input regarding vulnerable groups needs of sexual and reproductive health services, to further share it with the specialized organizations and institutions, community centers in the local level to respond at real time to these needs.
After a long advocacy work and on the basis of the ACPD expertise, the Ministry of Health signed an order according to which a group of experts is working to draft the sub-law of the Reproductive Health Law thus specifying the ways the comprehensive sexuality educations will be conducted in schools. ACPD is the NGO which leaded the whole process. In the meantime ACPD has also had the support of the Coalition on Reproductive Health which consists of NGOs working in the field of health, HIV/AIDs prevention, Youth NGOs and Human Rights NGOs.
20 partnerships were established with organizations and institutions that contributed to comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) commitments. MoU were signed with new institutions including schools as well as a signed Agreement of Cooperation between Albanian Center for Population and Development (ACPD) and Municipality of Tirana for further delivery of Comprehensive Sexuality Education and other Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights topics to young people in facilities covered by Municipality of Tirana.
Municipality of Tirana is committed to ensure and advance CSE work with a focus on young people out of school, based in community centers and progress this work in reaching other young people in informal settings in the future. 4 Community Centers’ Directors and the Director of Social Services in the Municipality partnered with ACPD on drafting an advocacy action plan for CSE delivery.
In 2015 ACPD developed its advocacy strategy plan which focuses on young people’s sexual rights including access to youth friendly services and comprehensive sexuality education. The new advocacy strategic plan has been integrated with the new strategic framework 2016-2020. In November 2015, a policy paper approved the establishment of a working group that has been working on defining the modalities of inclusion the Youth Friendly Services (YFS) standards as an integral component of the SRH primary health care package.
Shkodra and Vlora NRC branches have strengthened the cooperation with the local government and non-government organizations to include them in the Information Package provision through the help desk component by sharing useful information with youth organizations, youth forums and youth related institutions towards better informed choices for their life. The collaboration with local government is a guarantee of sustainability.
ACPD has acquired a lot of expertise related to advocacy and lobbying activities on gender issues and in support of marginalized women such as the Law against Domestic Violence, Gender Equality Law; and the National Strategies on gender equality.
The need for the improvement of services to the survivors from Gender Based Violence, has led to the translation of the Standards of Operational Procedures and Essential Guidelines for Health /Police/Justice/Psycho-Social Care service and its submission to the Ministry of Health and Social Protection (MoHSP) for adaption and approval in 2020.
The Working Group of the Universal Periodic Review was established in accordance with United Nation, held its thirty-third session from 6 to 17 May 2019 Albania submitted its national report under UPR in February 2019. ACPD supported the participation of General Director of MoHSP to the `12th meeting of the WG on Ageing in the role of the National Contact Point of the WG on Ageing.
In 2021 ACPD has started a national program of training for Health Professionals and Members of Referral Mechanisms on SOPs.
ACPD strengthened the capacities of 150 members of 4 Independent Rural Women Forums to advocate and address their priority needs to local officials and the capacities of the women members of the Alliance of Women Council Members of Vlora Municipality (established by ACPD in 2015) to cooperate and dialogue with disadvantaged rural women to practice decision making.
A Social Contract is signed with the candidates for mayor of Vlora Municipality prior to the 2019 local elections to integrate women’s priority issues.
Score Cards Report has been produced on 2017 where community evaluated the performance of the local government.
As a result of 7 years of working for empowerment of rural women, the members of the Women’s Forum are taking self-initiatives to engage in rights-based activism for improvement of their quality of life.
ACPD is one of the three NGOs that initiated the establishment of the coalition “For the Promotion of women, youth and minorities in Politics”, and led the advocacy activities for the inclusion of 30% gender quota in the Electoral Law for members of parliament and 50% gender quota for local members of the municipality council. At local level it has worked on mobilizing community to voice their priority needs to the local government, conducting of participatory budgeting and gender budgeting.
The National Plan for Elderly people in Albania prepared by the group of experts established in 2018, got approved through a Decision of the Council of Ministers on 24th December 2019 and entered into force on 30th Dec. 2019.
Vlora and Shkodra National Resource Centers for Civil Society offices contributed to the establishment of the database for civil society organizations which feeds into the data processing and generation of the disaggregated information that is needed to strengthen policies and programs not only in national level but also local level.
- Awareness campaigns
Numerous awareness campaigns have been organized by ACPD on the Population Day, 8th of March, World AIDS Day, the World Contraception Day, 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence, the Day against Human Trafficking, etc. During these campaigns thousands of citizens are reached and provided with information related to the topics and positive messages. ACPD has contributed to awareness raising on people rights to information and services (clients rights in service centers).
412 posters for service provision; 412 posters on the use of protective measures and 15,000 leaflets are produced and distributed nationally in local health care units and health centres in coordination with the Health Care Operator.
About 5000 people were reached during the Theatre Play on tackling bulling at schools on occasion of 16 Days of Activism at the rural communities of Vlora and Tirana, as well through the use of social media.
About 600 young people and community leaders were reached through the theatre “A trampled dream” about GBV and forced/early marriages.
200 community members of each municipal unit are informed and aware of the functioning
of the mechanism of violence.
More than 70,000 people are reached with awareness messages about GBV, against domestic violence, early marriages and the role of men and boys as part of the solution, through the online awareness campaigns; with positive messages about CC screening, prevention and treatment through educational and awareness raising activities and social media.
Media products were developed by journalists tailoring positive messages about, SRHR, HIV, and Cervical Cancer aiming to inform and make general population aware about how to prevent those.
About 2000 young people have visited the ACPD blog page and got informed and aware on the components of CSE and its positive effects in young people lives, health and wellbeing. 20,100 young people and adults were reached throughout social media campaign with positive messages about CSE.
“Youth Forum” was founded and works at “Aulona” Center Vlore under the project “Increasing opportunities for labor market integration of youth and families at risk” composed of the most active and eager youths to engage in the social life of the city, ready to raise their voice about issues that concern them and their peers as well. Forum youths have become an active part of the advocacy campaign “Support Vlora youths to build the Future”. As a result of the campaign, representatives of Vlore municipality assumed to open the career counseling office at Vlora municipality.
ACPD supported partner organization to promote a healthy lifestyle among third age people and fostering intergenerational interactions in Tirana. Booklets were designed and distributed among the target audience with basic and important information on a healthy lifestyle for the elderly.
- Capacity Building
ACPD has conducted numerous training courses and schools for building capacities of civil Society Organizations, young women politicians, teachers, community leaders, with service providers, women, young people, and Roma community leaders.
More than 3000 health care providers were trained on different topics related to SRHR (including HIV/AIDS; Cervical Cancer; MISP).
More than 70 participants from Lezha and Elbasan maternity city were trained on “Helping Mothers Survive Post-Partum Haemorrhage” “Essential Care for Every Baby” and “Essential Care for Small Babies” to help them maintain and improve knowledge and skills through review and practice using guidelines approved by the American Association “LDS Charities”.
About 600 teachers from public schools in rural areas of Tirana, Vlora and Shkodra and 600 community members and parents are made aware about the comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) benefits to young people lives.
17 local NGOs of the districts of Vlora and Shkodra increased their capacities to deliver MISP (Minimum Initial Service Package) of Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) in crisis and emergency situations.
Traditional and social media representatives were supplied with needed information, knowledge, skills and values to inform the public in an unbiased way about the HIV related cases and convey positive messages in relation to key population groups including the ones who live with HIV, IDUs, MSM, and Roma community.
About 2000 young people from key population and 3000 young people from high schools in Tirana, Vlora and Shkodra were supplied with information and education on sexual rights, HIV, safer sex, Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services.
More than 60 healthcare providers and women participated in focus group discussions who have been part of National Cervical Cancer Program and recommended a stronger collaboration between general practitioners and gynecologists.
ACPD revised the Inside and out tool to assure the quality of delivery; the comprehensive coefficient was 97%.
The Safe from SGBV toolkit is translated, adapted and validated by the Agency for Ensuring Quality Pre-University Education (AEQPUE) to be used in Albanian school settings to equip students and teachers with information and knowledge on prevention of sexual and gender-based violence through comprehensive sexuality education.
An online platform “Safe from Sexual and Gender-Based Violence”, part of ACPD website is developed to enable young people, teachers, parents and community members to access information and knowledge about comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).
600 young students of 9 -year’s schools of rural areas in Tirana and Shkodra were reached with information on Children’s rights and human trafficking.
50 boys from the rural areas of Novosela, Orikum, Dajc and Region number 4 in Shkodra are trained to become active members of the COMBAT group and are involved in the awareness raising campaigns in their respective communities.
More than 300 health care providers from Tirana were provided with knowledge and skills on Standard Operative Procedures (SoPs), the changes in the Domestic Violence (DV) legislation.
Police officers have been skilled on gender-based violence and the effective use of the existing referral mechanism. 100 community leaders and members and civic society activist are made aware and have improved the communication between them in order to better address the sexual and gender-based violene (SGBV) and domestic violence (DV).
10 members of the mechanism that represent the institutions in Lezha are already part of the referral system and have already defined their respective roles and responsibilities. Employees, members of the respective institutions of the referral mechanism, are trained on specific tasks related to the functioning of the referral mechanism. About 120 local officials have acquired knowledge about citizens participation in decision making, participatory budgeting and gender budgeting.
Reproductive Health Kits manual for crises has been designed to map the next interventions with regards to continuation of the MISP program (2019).
36 Procedures for the Provision of Sexual and Reproductive Health Services in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
4000 copies of “Safe mother in Emergency Situations” were disseminated to community people in the areas at risk of floods and snow blocking.
500 copies of the manual” A practical approach towards gender-based violence” were disseminated with health care providers.
900 SOPs are distributed (300 per SoP) 60 Municipalities.
- Research activity
ACPD has compiled and published ”The CEDAW Shadow report “2001, together with Independent Forum of Albanian Women; drafting the CEDAW 3rd National Periodic Report, compiled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, (2008); CEDAW Shadow Report compiled by NGOs (2008). In 2015 – 2016 after the government submitted its CEDAW periodic report to CEDAW committee, ACPD initiated the writing of the NGOs Shadow report which was sent to CEDAW Committee on Article 12 which deals with health care and more specifically RH with the contribution of 20 other NGOs.
ACPD throughout years has conducted many researches and studies on population issues as gender, youth and education etc. for the area of SRH, HIV/AIDS and gender based and sexual violence.
Among many of them is the research on ‘Women’s participation in politics and decision-making’ a quantitative and qualitative research for two years in succession; contributed in Albanian Behavior and Biological Surveillance study among Roma Population conducting supported by Global Fund in 2011.
In partnership with the Public Health Institute and financed by UNICEF, in the period November 2007 – January 2008, ACPD has prepared the Study on Behavioral Monitoring Surveillance for HIV/AIDs and Sexually Transmitted Infection in MARA (Most at Risk Adolescents). This study constitutes an important contribution for information for the reaction towards HIV. This study is important for assuring the information on behaviors between the vulnerable groups of the population (MSM and sex workers), which are difficult to be reached through traditional studies.
Study on Assessment of VCT HIV / AIDS for young people, supported by UNICEF (December 2012).
A special size estimation study was conducted to present key population size estimation for each of the county/region and national estimation. Integrated HIV Bio-Behavioural Surveillance (IBBS) study finished in November 2019 and data produced were used by “Size Estimation” Study to achieve its objectives and to calculate different indicators set during designation of the research. A general report was prepared and shared with the main actors.
ACPD conducted a need assessment on contraception in Albania related to availability and quality of services and other supply related issues functioning of health system to enable environment for FP/ SRH-seeking behavior; Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices related to modern contraceptive methods among young girls and women in Albania (2020).
A strategic plan on contraception was produced to guide the actions of all partners and to influence policy makers at national and local level (2020).
ACPD in 2020 complied and published guidelines on Preparation and response to the sexual and reproductive health needs in times of Covid-19 as well as a survey to measure the level of proficiency in the skills needed to manage pregnancies, birth and prenatal care.
ACPD carried out in a high school of Tirana a baseline and endline study to provide evidences related to the benefits of CSE to young people lives with strong emphasis on prevention and response to harmful social norms and practises and sexual abuse (2020-2021)
A baseline and end line study were conducted with representatives from Key Population (KP) (MSM; sex workers; Roma community; LGBTI) to evaluate the access to quality services and treatment without stigma and discrimination. The final report with findings from the study was with local representatives and representatives from the Ministry of Health and Social Protection (MoHSP) to show evidence-based data related to delivery of CSE in formal and in informal settings (2021). In 2020 a gender assessment took place with the support of International Planned Parenthood Federation helping ACPD to assess the extent to which its work is gender transformative. Addressing key recommendations of this tool ACPD has updated the manual of policies according to the Handbook Policy of IPPF including the policy of gender equality and organized a workshop to introduce staff and members with the improved version of the handbook policy.