WACI Health at ICASA 2017 5 Key Moments

1. 2017 Biomedical HIV Prevention Forum

The 2017 Biomedical HIV Prevention Forum (BHPF), held on the 3rd of December as a pre-conference of ICASA was a key moment for WACI Health. Together with the New HIV Vaccine and Microbicide Advocacy Society (NHVMAS) and Society for AIDS in Africa (SAA), WACI Health played a convening role with financial and technical support from many partners including: AVAC, International HIV/AIDS Alliance, International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM), HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN), AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and Alliance Cote d’Ivoire.

The BHPF forum brought together 190 participants including: researchers, HIV Prevention Research Advocates, communities, policy makers and development partners.

Focus of the BHPF is on promoting synergy between HIV prevention science and program, maximizing the impact of HIV prevention on incidence, access to care and health equity. Accelerating the diffusion of best and promising HIV prevention practices, policies and research and also forging new connections across the full range of HIV prevention and care providers, researchers, policy makers, advocates, and people living with and affected by HIV.

The forum featured four sessions with 15 speakers. Topics discussed ranged from population specific discussions (adolescents, women, key populations) to updates on biomedical HIV prevention research, PrEP access, combination prevention and sexual and, reproductive health and rights.

BHPF Pre-conference Flyer
Facilitators and speakers at the BHPF Photo credit: WACI Health
Participants listen closely during one of the BHPF sessions Photo credit: WACI Health

2. Africa Free of New HIV Infections (AfNHi) launch

AfNHi is an African-led network of HIV prevention research advocates borne out of a joint vision to fast track the biomedical HIV prevention agenda in Africa through local ownership, using indigenous strategies to enhance Africa’s contribution to global goals.

The network began as an extended exchange, among prevention research advocates in Africa, over a couple of years, around the need to champion African led advocacy in biomedical HIV prevention research. In 2015, with technical and financial support from AVAC, these efforts accelerated towards formalization of the network, which was officially launched during the 2017 BHPF in Abidjan at ICASA.

AfNHi’s advocacy agenda is to strengthen and expand an informed, action-oriented African advocacy network of civil society and community-based organizations that support and facilitate HIV prevention research and maintains active, informed engagement with researchers, media and policy makers.

Watch the launch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxSrQhVGbmY

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AfNHiTweets/

 

Photo credit: WACI Health

3. Ending AIDS, TB and Malaria and meeting UHC targets in Africa: A focus on expanding public finance and leaving no one behind

Ending AIDS, TB and malaria will require expanded public finance with financial risk protection especially for those furthest behind. Ensuring that AIDS, TB and malaria services are included in UHC programs is critical towards ending the three diseases and achieving SDG 3. WACI Health, through the Civil Society platform on Health in Africa (CISPHA) and Global Fund Advocates Network (GFAN) facilitated the convening of civil society for a discussion on these issues.

Objectives of the meeting included: exchanging and sharing information among CISPHA and GFAN Africa members on expanding public finance to end the epidemics and strengthen health systems; examining risks of simultaneous transition or multiple funders withdrawing from the same country over the same time period [in reference to ACTION’s report]; identifying common understanding on the concept of ‘leave no one behind.’

Discussions at the meeting highlighted the need for African governments to scale up domestic investments in health while calling upon the international community to fulfill their ODA commitments in the spirit of global solidarity. On the issues of transitions, discussions emphasized that country-led, responsible transition can help to maximize health progress and sustainability, and allow scarce external resources to be targeted for greatest efficiency and impact.

On the part of civil society, it was noted that strengthening civil society capacity for budget advocacy is a priority and urgent issue.

CISPA and GFAN members during the domestic resource mobilization meeting in Abidjan Photo credit: WACI Health

4.Poster presentation – A multisectoral approach to ending child marriages

A poster presentation, on reducing new HIV Infections, Child pregnancy and GBV, by Ntombesizwe Nombasa Gxuluwe, a WACI Health staff based in South Africa, was a moment of pride for WACI Health. The poster presentation tells the GBV story specifically focusing on a civil society intervention on ending child marriages using a multisectoral approach inclusive of key stakeholders such as government departments and traditional leaders – empowering traditional leaders to champion an end to gender-based violence.

In the documentary Ukuthwala: Stolen Innocence by WACI Health, also summarized in this blog, the plight of young girls sold off as brides and how WACI Health and partners cultivate traditional leaders and health care providers as champions for girls in ending early marriages and for the implementation of the sexual Offenses Act in South Africa is highlighted.

Maureen Mulenga reads through Nombasa’s poster presentation Photo credit: WACI Health

5.Advancing Partnerships

Partnerships are at the heart of WACI Health’s approach. ICASA offered an opportunity to not only connect with partners but also draw from their wisdom and strengths. A big shout out and appreciation to our amazing partners who came out at ICASA in support of our work and to cheer us on: CISPHA members; the International Civil Society support and GFAN family; the ACTION Global Health Advocacy Partnership, including the ACTION Secretariat, KANCO, Health Promotion Tanzania (HDT) and RESULTS; New HIV Vaccine and Microbicide Advocacy Society; AVAC; The VARG; IAVI; PATH Kenya; The International HIV/AIDS Alliance; Phenomenal Women, and the Global Fund secretariat.

Besides side meetings, spotting such partners in the room was very inspiring and uplifting. Through such mutually reinforcing partnerships, WACI Health will continue to work for improved health outcomes in Africa- an Africa free of New HIV&TB infections and equitable access to affordable, quality and timely health services for all.

Action Partners meeting held in Abidjan Photo credit: WACI Health
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