In October, the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) undertook a review of its work for the stated purpose of potentially extending its mandate until the end of 2022. A new strategic plan and budget for the next 12 months were also released by the lead partner agencies.
ACT-A’s Platform for Civil Society and Community Representatives, co-led by WACI Health, the Global Fund Advocates Network, and StopAIDS UK, has been convening civil society representatives to provide input into the strategy and review processes. In each pillar and workstream of the ACT-A framework, the Platform will advocate for community and civil society representatives.
Recently, civil society through the Platform’s leadership sent a letter to the ACT-A Facilitation Council co-chairs and lead agencies outlining key issues for the strategy and a statement in response to the ACT-A strategic review. Civil society representatives in each ACT-A pillar continue to track developments closely and advocate for an equitable and responsive response to COVID-19. Read more
Gains made in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV could be reversed, with new HIV infections among children up by as much as 104%
A modelling group convened by the World Health Organization and UNAIDS has estimated that if efforts are not made to mitigate and overcome interruptions in health services and supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic, a six-month disruption of antiretroviral therapy could lead to more than 500 000 extra deaths from AIDS-related illnesses, including from tuberculosis, in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020–2021. In 2018, an estimated 470 000 people died of AIDS-related deaths in the region.
There are many different reasons that could cause services to be interrupted—this modelling exercise makes it clear that communities and partners need to take action now as the impact of a six-month disruption of antiretroviral therapy could effectively set the clock on AIDS-related deaths back to 2008, when more than 950 000 AIDS-related deaths were observed in the region. And people would continue to die from the disruption in large numbers for at least another five years, with an annual average excess in deaths of 40% over the next half a decade. In addition, HIV service disruptions could also have some impact on HIV incidence in the next year.
“The terrible prospect of half a million more people in Africa dying of AIDS-related illnesses is like stepping back into history,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization.
“We must read this as a wake-up call to countries to identify ways to sustain all vital health services. For HIV, some countries are already taking important steps, for example ensuring that people can collect bulk packs of treatment, and other essential commodities, including self-testing kits, from drop-off points, which relieves pressure on health services and the health workforce. We must also ensure that global supplies of tests and treatments continue to flow to the countries that need them,” added Dr Tedros.
On 24th March, we marked the World TB Day. The theme for this year was, IT’S TIME. It’s indeed time to end TB. One missing person can infect up to 15 people with Tuberculosis (TB) every day.
Globally, over 4 million persons with TB were missed in 2016. Patients are considered “missing” when they have not been diagnosed, haven’t been notified of their status or if they default on treatment.
Despite vast efforts to educate the public on the risk factors associated with TB, large numbers of people diagnosed with the disease still do not get treatment for reasons such as stigma attached to the disease, or because they think that they have been cured after taking medication for less than the prescribed six-month period. Diagnostic delays is also a factor contributing to missing persons. Health system failures, such as poor recording of patients’ contact details, poor follow-up of patients who do not return to collect their test results, results not being available when patients return to the health facility and perceptions of poor quality of services (long waiting times, disrespectful staff) need to be addressed.
With the global TB incidence declining at only 1.5% per year, we are not on track for an 80% reduction in TB incidence by 2030. There is an urgent need for Governments to commit more resources for health to defeat the disease. We ask Governments to commit at least 5% of their GDP to health so that broadly, they build resilient and responsive health systems that provides comprehensive primary health care based on the principle of leaving no one behind.
In October this year, France will host the 6th Global Fund replenishment conference to raise at least US$14 billion to end HIV, TB and malaria. Investments in the Global Fund have saved more than 27 million lives since 2002. A fully funded replenishment will enable the Global Fund to scale up its effective responses and get the world back on track to fight the three diseases and save lives. Resources from the Global Fund and domestic resources from Governments when put together, will support the building of strong health systems.
Over three decades ago, Alma-Ata Declaration signatories expressed the need for urgent action to protect and promote the health of all people. It was the first international declaration underlining the importance of primary health care. Fast-forward many years later, the World Health Assembly resolution from 2005 emphasized this by saying that everyone should have equitable access to key promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative health interventions at an affordable cost, with no subjection to financial hardships. The World Health Report 2010 put forward two messages vital in making progress on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) agenda:
Countries need to ensure that they spend adequately on health
Countries should improve health system efficiencies so that no-one is left behind
As African Civil Society, we are concerned at the low commitments by our governments to increase domestic resources for health. With regard to the three major epidemics – HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria – which are still a threat in Africa; ending them requires sustainable financing to ensure research, development and progress towards UHC.
Today, at least half of the world’s population do not have full coverage of essential healthcare services. In Africa, a staggering 11 million people fall into extreme poverty each year due to out-of-pocket (OOP) health expenses. Unless Governments increase the allocation of resources for health and design intervention to promote equity, persisting gaps in service coverage will remain. On the sidelines of the Africa Health Agenda International; civil society in their statement echoed the need for more political will by African Governments and emphasized the need to invest at least 5% of GDP towards health to make UHC a reality in Africa. In addition, they called for African Governments to mobilise support for a successful 6th Global Fund Replenishment.
Nay Maps a South African actor and Fahe Kerubo a Kenya youthful human rights defender have been appointed as Champions to work with WACI Health for the next one year. The duo will support GFAN Africa’s advocacy work especially in ensuring a fully funded Global Fund and urging Governments to allocate more domestic resources for health.
In her own words, Fahe said “I am honoured and it’s a privilege to have been chosen as a champion” She is eager, optimistic and excited to work with WACI Health.
Nay Maps a South African actor is delighted and is looking forward to working with WACI Health and positively impact society.
In his own words, Nay said “I feel honored and responsible for Global Health Awareness and I stand for Universe Health Coverage and believe that through this platform, more lives will be informed and saved and educated…which therefore means that diseases decrease and begin to be eradicated and healthy living is promoted.”
At WACI Health, we are excited to have these two champions on board and look forward to running successful campaigns with them.
This civil society meeting was on the side lines of the first-ever platform Africa Leadership Meeting on Investing in Health held to discuss resources for health to accelerate universal healthcare coverage. Only 2 out of the 55 AU member states have dedicated the recommended government budget, at least 15%, to health. This, according to the Africa Scorecard on Domestic Financing for Health (2018) fails to meet the suggested threshold of $86.30 per person required to provide a basic package of health services. In the 2008 ‘Bamako Declaration’, 26 African countries made commitments to allocate at least 2% of their ministry of health budget to research – a commitment which has not been realized.
The health advocates noted that the greatest driver of the Africa’s economies is human capital. Financing health will boost productivity, save money and lead to economic growth. While remarkable developments have been made in global health, many people in Africa still die each day from preventable diseases such as HIV, TB and malaria. At the meeting, the health advocates pledged to continue playing their role through constructive engagement with all stakeholders Read More Here as well as ensure accountability on how health is governed and delivered in Africa.
Increasing domestic resources for health is key to achieving SDG 3 on the health and wellbeing of all and to achieve the 10 year action plan of the Africa Union Commission’s Agenda 2063. Healthy nations are indeed prosperous nations.
On 14th February – Valentine’s Day, communities and civil society organizations in over 45 countries sent “love letters” to embassies and high commissions of donor countries to appreciate their support to the Global Fund. Since its establishment in 2002, the Global Fund has disbursed a total of over US$ 40.2 billion and saved over 27 million lives affected by the three epidemics.
The Valentine’s day campaign was coordinated by GFAN Asia Pacific. Countries presented thank you letters and flowers to Embassies, High Commissions and Governments for their contributions to the Global Fund while urging them to contribute more during the 2019 6th replenishment. Special thank you letters were presented to the Embassies of Ireland to the India High Commissions. We thanked Ireland for pledging towards this year’s replenishment and appreciated India for hosting the pre-replenishment conference in February. 13 countries in Africa participated in this very successful campaign.
The 6th Replenishment of the Global Fund will take place on 10th October in Lyon, France. It will be another opportunity for Global Fund donors and implementing countries to demonstrate their continued commitment in scaling up work to defeat HIV/AIDS, TB & Malaria.
A lot of progress has been made, yet, the world is not on track to end HIV, TB and malaria as epidemics by 2030. The Global Fund fundraising target of US$14 billion, for the next three-year cycle (2020-2022), is significantly lower than the estimate in the GFAN Report “Get Back on Track” of US$16.8 – US$18 billion. There is huge concern that the US$14 billion target will only maintain current levels of programming and will not enable us to step up the fight!
GFAN Africa and health advocates, strongly call on governments and donors to: demonstrate their political will by making early and increased pledges for the 6th replenishment as well as fulfilling their previous commitments. . An increased and fully funded replenishment will enable the Global Fund to help countries accelerate progress toward universal health coverage. Health advocates are also asking African governments to commit 5% of their GDP towards health to ensure successful, life-saving interventions.
At a high-level meeting in Dakar, Senegal, UNAIDS, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) urged countries in western and central Africa to do more to stop new HIV infections among children and adolescents and increase HIV testing and treatment coverage.
25 January 2019 – Nairobi, KENYA. In preparation for the Africa Leaders Meeting on Investing in Health, taking place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 9th February; and in the lead up to the 6th replenishment of the Global Fund in October, health advocates in Africa, under the Civil Society Platform for Health and the Global Fund Advocates Network (GFAN) Africa, have met and emphasized the need for African governments to step up domestic resources for health.
There are about 1.8 billion young people aged between 10 to 24 years in the world. This is by far the largest generation of youth in history! Approximately half of them – 900 million – are adolescent girls and young women.
Majority of the adolescent girls and young women live in low and middle-income countries. With regards to HIV, this young cohort is disproportionately affected by the virus. In 2016, 2.3 million adolescents and young women were living with HIV. Eastern and southern Africa regions carry the heaviest burden with an estimated 230 000 new HIV infections annually. Overall, the number of African adolescents and young people is estimated to increase to more than 750 million by 2060. Bearing these projections in mind, new HIV infections among young people are expected to rise even if our global progress to HIV response is maintained.
To end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030, UNAIDS estimates US$26.2 billion is needed for the global HIV response in 2020 alone. This means the world must increase the amount of resources available for HIV by US$1.5 billion each year between 2016 and 2020. There is a lot more emphasis on countries most affected by the HIV epidemic to finance their own responses and find more efficient and cost-effective ways to do so.
The world will convene in France in October 2019 for the 6th replenishment of the Global Fund to raise new funds towards ending AIDS, TB and Malaria by 2030 in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals. In addition to the pledges which will be made, there is an increasing need for implementing countries (of the Global Fund grants) to step up their domestic resources for health especially investments in young women. There is limited research within the HIV evidence base specifically among adolescents and young women. Where data on youth exist, the way it is presented sometimes fails to tell the full story.
Photo credit: PEPFAR
Girls and women are powerful agents of change as well as drivers of sustainable development. Evidence from around the world confirms that investing in girls and women, by education and health, creates a ripple effect that yields multiple benefits such as greater accumulation of human capital; increased productivity, income and economic development. For example, a study in Botswana found that each additional year of secondary schooling by adolescent girls reduced cumulative HIV infection risk by 8.1%. Yet, despite all we know, decision makers have failed to consistently make adolescent girls and young women a priority. They are deprived of access to health services, confront barriers to education, are vulnerable to gender-based violence and face discrimination in political and economic spheres.
Now, at the dawn of the SDGs, we have an opportunity to correct this wrong and prioritize the health, rights, and wellbeing of girls and women everywhere.