26 May 2016 Volume :4 Issue :24

HEARD Co-Hosts Future of AIDS Financing Meeting

HEARD Co-Hosts Future of AIDS Financing Meeting
Delegates at the UNAIDS ESA (Eastern and Southern Africa regional support team) advisory committee meeting in March.

The Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division (HEARD) and the UNAIDS Regional Support Team (RST) for Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) - in collaboration with the World Bank Global AIDS Programme -  co-hosted the first meeting of the Eastern and Southern Africa Advisory Committee on Investment, Efficiency and Sustainability for the AIDS response.

The ESA Advisory Committee was established by HEARD, UNAIDS, the World Bank, Harvard University and other key institutions in the region that support Eastern and Southern African national AIDS responses, to guide optimisation and the economic analysis of HIV responses in ESA and to ensure that research and consultation on HIV sustainable finance are translated into policy decisions. The aim is to promote effective and sustainable AIDS financing in order to achieve the UNAIDS ‘Fast Track’ targets for ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

The Advisory Committee’s first meeting held in Durban was chaired by UKZN’s Chair of Health Economics and global expert in national AIDS responses, Professor Nana Poku, and brought together participants from national AIDS institutions, academia, civil society, donors and multilateral organisations.

With such inclusive participation, the ESA Advisory Committee sought to encourage in-depth and frank discussions between key actors at every level of the AIDS response who might otherwise have few opportunities to meet.

Poku opened the meeting with an overview of the new international environment and the key characteristics that will shape the AIDS response going forward; notably, pressure on the funding for AIDS following the stagnation of international aid; a much broader agenda of social and economic development reflected in the 17 goals and 169 targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the need to provide policy makers with advice on how to increase efficiency and allocate resources in a context of budgetary constraints. 

Discussion at the meeting focused on issues of efficiency of AIDS responses, experiences of links between HIV and AIDS and the health sector, and challenges and opportunities towards sustainable AIDS responses.

Participants agreed that, given the likelihood that resources would grow at a slow rate in the near future, there was a clear need to focus on efficiency, where more work was needed to identify the specific areas where savings could be achieved; potential synergies between HIV/AIDS and the broader agenda of Universal Health Coverage, and, providing a bridge between the results of clinical research and policies and between policies and implementation.

Practical solutions to financing the future of the epidemic will be explored at a two-day pre-conference event, immediately ahead of the 21st International AIDS Conference (IAC) in Durban on 15-16 July, The event will be hosted in conjunction with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the International AIDS Economics Network, HEARD, UNAIDS, the World Bank, Rush Foundation and Sida/Norad.

The pre-conference event will consider HIV costing, cost-effectiveness analysis, resource allocation and expenditure tracking, AIDS and the workplace, economics and behaviour change, health systems strengthening, and socio-economic impact assessments, among others.

Thomais Armaos

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