Knowledge Hubs

Knowledge hubs as regional technical capacity centres


The resources available to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria have dramatically increased in recent years. Nevertheless, many countries find it difficult to harness available resources and use them effectively to direct health and social programmes. The WHO and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) initiated the WHO/GTZ BACKUP Initiative to help ensure access to and optimal use of resources from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and other large grants, by supporting the development of local technical capacity to launch urgent large-scale responses to HIV/AIDS.

For the WHO European Region, three knowledge hubs were established, each of them focusing on one of three priority areas: treatment and care, harm reduction and surveillance.

  • Eurasian Harm Reduction Knowledge Hub
  • Regional Knowledge Hub for Capacity Building in HIV Surveillance
  • Regional Knowledge Hub for Care and Treatment of HIV/AIDS in Eurasia


The core of the WHO/GTZ BACKUP Initiative was to develop a number of existing regional institutions and networks into centres that can take the lead in providing technical backup to the Global Fund process at the regional and/or subregional level. These knowledge hubs perform four main functions:

  • providing direct technical assistance;
  • systematically building capacity for technical support;
  • supporting technical resource networks; and
  • adapting normative guidance to local conditions.

Capacity-building efforts focus on empowering those who are prominently involved in grant applications and in management and implementation at different levels. These include those with responsibility for the planning and implementing HIV prevention and treatment policies and services:

  • national AIDS programme managers;
  • government officials responsible for planning and implementation of HIV prevention policies and services;
  • participants in country coordinating mechanisms and other steering groups;
  • WHO and other United Nations staff;
  • other key stakeholders from nongovernmental organizations, community-based organizations and groups of people living with HIV;
  • academic and educational organizations;
  • health care workers; the private sector; and
  • religious and faith groups.

The guiding principles in establishing the knowledge hubs were as follows:

  • build on and grow from existing local and regional expertise and structures;
  • represent collaboration between a variety of governmental and nongovernmental key players;
  • recognize the value of comprehensive approaches to HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention;
  • represent sustainable projects with local and/or regional ownership, with WHO/GTZ support focusing on initial technical support and provision of seed funding; and
  • strive for technical excellence and recognition and thus attract significant additional funding through pooling of resources by a number of partners, both at national and international levels.