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New Beginnings for HIV Prevention Research in Africa

Advances in science in the last two decades have led to tremendous progress against HIV. Breakthroughs in HIV treatment and prevention research have allowed the HIV community to halt and begin to reverse spread of the HIV epidemic. Biomedical approaches such as rapid and user-friendly HIV tests and affordable and effective antiretroviral treatment for people living with HIV have changed the landscape of the HIV response. Other impactful prevention tools have included voluntary medical male circumcision, male and female condoms, and oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), among others.

All the same, the fight against HIV is far from won. HIV prevention efforts across the world have all but stagnated. According to UNAIDS, 2.1 million people became newly infected with HIV around the world in 2015. To end HIV as an epidemic by 2030, the world will need to do more, deploying traditional tools while developing new tools to accelerate the fight against the disease.

Research and development around new tools to help bolster HIV response is fundamental. It is why a new initiative called the Coalition to Accelerate and Support Prevention Research (CASPR) is exciting. Funded by USAID, and supported by PEPFAR, the coalition seeks to strengthen Africa-focused and led HIV biomedical prevention research, implementation and advocacy. The fact that the coalition is Africa focused is also fundamental because Africa has been left behind in many research and development issues.

The CASPR network, led by AVAC, brings together several Africa-based partners—including the Research institute of the University of the Witwatersrand (WRHI), WACI Health, HIV/AIDS Vaccine Ethics Group (HAVEG), the New HIV Vaccine and Microbicide Advocacy Society (NHVMAS) and the Advocacy for Prevention of HIV and AIDS (APHA)– to accelerate HIV prevention research in Africa. These groups along with partners with longstanding engagement in the region, including IAVI, FHI 360, Avenir Health, and Internews, will work collaboratively to build a network  dedicated to advancing advocacy, policy, regulatory, community engagement and communications efforts that help accelerate biomedical HIV prevention research.

This initiative will support Africa to make its contribution in HIV prevention research, in areas such  vaccine development. This is much needed. Africa can play its role, not only advocating for great use of the tools available to defeating HIV but also in contributing to creation of new tools to end the disease as an epidemic.

CASPR seeks to support an Africa-centered network dedicated to advancing biomedical HIV prevention research through a robust network of strategic partnerships and an interconnected array of activities such as linking prevention research advocacy to campaigns for increased domestic financing for health; establishing an African HIV Media Network; expanding the Good Participatory Practice framework; and increasing coordination between research partners, governments and civil society.

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Big Stories of 2016

WACI Health reflects on the major developments in global health in 2016.

  1. In May 2016, WHO recommended a shorter treatment for multi-drug resistant TB, which not only reduces the length of treatment by half for many patients but also cuts costs by at least 50 percent.  Full story

  2. In September, the World Health Organization certified Sri Lanka as a malaria-free nation. Full story

  3. In September, the Global Fund raised close to US$13 billion to accelerate the response to HIV, TB and malaria as well as build resilient and sustainable systems for health. Full story

  4. In October, the world launched the first child-friendly TB medicines. The new formulations will increase children’s adherence to the drugs as they are easier for children to take. Full story

  5. In November, trials for a new HIV vaccine started in South Africa. Full story

  6. In December, a new Ebola vaccine was found to give 100 percent protection against the disease. Full story
CategoriesWACI Health News

Press Release Combating TB-HIV in South Africa World AIDS Day 2016

press release waci healtjh

new research report from ACTION shows that while countries have taken steps in the right direction to combat the deadly duo of TB and HIV, policy improvements have not all translated into changes at the facility level.

The report, From Policy to Practice: How the TB-HIV Response is Working launched at the International AIDS conference in July 2016, affirms that of all the countries with high burdens of HIV-associated TB, the government of South Africa has most fully embraced TB-HIV integration and actively taken steps to implement collaborative activities. Support for TB-HIV collaboration flourishes within the Ministry of Health, who was the first country to develop a joint strategic plan for HIV, TB, and STIs.

South Africa’s government has been incredibly innovative in its fight against TB and HIV, and has recently begun to implement the recommendations in South African HIV and TB Investment Case published in March 2016. This investment case, which began as a requirement for a Global Fund HIV proposal and was taken further by the government, affirms that HIV and TB represent among the most serious of all health threats to the people of South Africa. South Africa is also in a unique position among high burden countries to scale up R&D for new diagnostics and treatments.

Despite the country’s strong efforts to fight TB and HIV, the report highlights a key challenge: A health system fractured between overburdened public clinics and well-resourced private providers accessible only to elites means that many people who need services are being left behind. To address inequity, South Africa is rolling out a national health insurance financing system over the next 14 years and is working to address quality of care in public clinics.4,5 For the “ideal clinic” concept to be realized, public health facilities, especially at the primary health care level, need to be resourced (i.e., financially and staffing-wise, with trainings to build capacity, and dissemination and implementation of new guidelines and policies).

On this World AIDS Day, ACTION partner WACI Health in collaboration with TB/HIV Care Association proposes to creating a moment where recommendations from the report From Policy to Practice: How the TB-HIV Response is Working along with the case study Combating TB-HIV in South Africa can be brought to relevant stakeholders including government, donors and civil society. This event will be taking place in Mdantsane NU 1 Community hall on the 8th of December 2016 from 9h30.

The key messages are as follows:

  1. The South Africa government should increase investment in research and development by 33 percent to support the advancement of new tools to fight TB and TB-HIV.
  2. The Ministry of Health should work with primary health care facilities to support the implementation of TB-HIV policies.
  3. Donors should continue to invest in high impact TB-HIV interventions and support sustainable national programs.
  4. Civil society must work to promote equitable access to care and support community-based responses to TB-HIV care

For further information, please contact:

Sizwe Nombasa Gxuluwe, Waci health, email: nombasa@wacihealth.org, Cell:082640554

CategoriesBlog

Highlights of the Year

In our advocacy work over the last year, our partnership has accumulated a list of accomplishments and as a result propelled our vision of advocating for improved health for all in Africa. Below is a select few of those 2016 highlights.

High-Level Meeting in New York: CISPHA co-hosted a pan-African civil society meeting ahead of the United Nations High Level Meeting on HIV, playing a significant role in urging partners to commit to improved financing of the Aids response by ensuring that the Global Fund is funded strongly. The outcome document from the meeting became a critical reference text for both the Africa Union member states and donor governments. The deliberations are captured in this blog by GFAN Africa.

Kenya Contribution to Global Fund: Together with KANCO, WACI Health and the Kenyan civil society organizations we worked to engage Kenya Ministry of Health officials, including Cabinet Secretary for Health Dr. Cleopa Mailu and Acting Director of Medical Services Dr. Jackson Kioko. These leaders committed to advocate for an increased Kenyan pledge to the Global Fund replenishment. The objective came to fruition with a pledge of US$ 5 million by Kenya during the pledging conference in Montreal, Canada 16-17, September 2016.

Vaccines: In commemoration of the 2016 World AIDS Vaccine Day, WACI Health co-convened civil society representatives from the eastern and southern Africa region to renew, strength and accelerate civil society action on investments and innovation in AIDS Vaccine Research and Development, among other New Prevention Technologies. This meeting came up with a call to action, boldly calling upon African governments to accelerate HIV R&D investments

 

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Global Fund Replenishment and CISPHA’s Journey

A great thing happened in Africa civil society circles in 2009 with the formation of CISPHA – the Civil Society Platform for Health in Africa. In seven short years, the group has covered a lot of ground, uniting many civil society organizations working in global health in Africa, demanding a space at the table, and articulating issues that nudge governments and other authorities to do more for the health of the people of the continent.

With remarkable experience forged in the trenches of global health advocacy, CISPHA has spent the last year firmly focused on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) launched in New York in September 2015.

The framing of the SDGs was greatly successful in its eloquent capturing of the fact that all issues of development are interconnected.  While CISPHA has chosen to focus its work on SDG3 – ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages – it recognizes that to attain that goal there are many other fundamental factors covered in other SDGs that must come to play. Issues of poverty, education, gender equality, human rights, climate change, among others. As such, CISPHA seeks to build broader and richer partnerships for development.

In 2016, CISPHA focused much of its energy on GFAN Africa in supporting the replenishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria – a partnership that has saved more than 20 million lives in the last 15 years of its operations. CISPHA regards the Global Fund as one of the most successful partnerships for development.

In 2016, the Global Fund held its replenishment to raise US$ 13 billion to accelerate the fight against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria and to build resilient and sustainable systems for health. A strong Fifth Replenishment for the Global Fund’s was one of CISPHA’s top objectives in 2016. The network lobbied and advocated for more support for the fight against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, reminding governments of the impressive gains made against these diseases because of the work of the Global Fund partnership. It was time to accelerate that progress and end these diseases for good. CISPHA also mapped out reasons why the gains were fragile and why the world could not stop investing in the Global Fund.

It was exciting when we gathered in Montreal in September — in a meeting hosted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada to see partners raise US$ 12.91 billion for the Global Fund. The amount raised — nearly meeting the US$ 13 billion goal — was the biggest commitment of funds to fight diseases in history. It was a remarkable feat especially in a time of many competing global priorities.

The African civil societies were especially gratified by the fact that for the first time African countries were front and center in galvanizing the world to invest more in the Global Fund. Beyond calling on the world to commit more resources to the Global Fund, African countries also made strong pledges themselves. Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Togo, and Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa each made their contributions. The money raised will save 8 million lives, avert 300 million infections – most of them in Africa – and help build resilient and sustainable systems for health.

For CISPHA, which has committed itself to calling on Africa to invest more in the health of its people, this was a remarkable achievement. Nevertheless, we are not there yet. CISPHA now calls on African governments to commit more of their annual expenditures to health as demanded by Africa Scorecard on Domestic Financing for Health launched in July this year.

For now, CISPHA is thankful for the remarkable achievement in raising funds for the Global Fund, now expected to go beyond the US$ 13 billion. Above all, CISPHA is tremendously thankful for the strong showing of African countries in the Replenishment. For every, civil society group or partner that advocated to make this possible we thank you. We are looking forward to more such successes in 2017 and beyond.

CategoriesBlog

A New Hat

In 2016 – after close to 20 years as World Aids Campaign International (WACI) – we rebranded, streamlining our mandate and renaming our organization WACI Health. As an Africa regional advocacy organization, WACI Health has taken a firm focus on ending life-threatening illnesses and improving health for all on the African continent. We aim to build broad collaborations that can galvanize sufficient political will to enhance and guarantee health equity, foster human rights and promote gender equality.

Our approach is three-pronged:

  • Policy and advocacy
  • Capacity strengthening for civil society, for stronger engagement in global health
  • Civil society mobilization

Our footprints

In 1997, we began as World AIDS Campaign (WAC) with an aim to raise public awareness on the global Aids response, working amongst diverse civil society organizations. We led in the planning and observance of the International World Aids Day. Four years later, we became an independent non-governmental organisation based in the Netherlands.

In 2008, we undertook a strategic shift that led to the registration of World Aids Campaign International (WACI) in South Africa. Over the years, our scope of work has also increased from a HIV and Aids portfolio to an all-inclusive health advocacy package for Africa, with a broader, approach to inclusive health needs of people.

In 2016, we rebranded to WACI Health. Wearing this new hat, we have stayed true to our traditional role of responding to HIV and Aids even as we embrace a broader health development agenda.

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