Newsletter

U.S. State Department: Making the global local

The U.S. State Department benefits the American people by advancing U.S. national security, promoting their economic interests, providing services, and reaffirming the country’s exceptional role in the world.

This resource from the U.S. State Department represents just some of the direct impacts State Department programs have in American communities, bringing their global impact closer to home.

The global fight against new HIV Infections

This blog post was written by Revati Chawla, Lead-Prevention Programming at the International HIV/AIDS Alliance. The International HIV/AIDS Alliance’s mission is to put communities at the centre of the  HIV/AIDS response in order to provide effective local solutions; as they work  to end AIDS through community action. They are a 2018 Global Health Council Member.

In July 2018, the 22nd International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam brought together organisations, researchers, scientists and activists from across the globe to discuss new advances and priority areas to tackle the HIV epidemic.

The global fight against new HIV infections

A week earlier, UNAIDS warned that the HIV response is off-track, with new infections in 2017 remaining stubbornly high at 1.8 million. The International HIV/AIDS Alliance is part of the Global Prevention Coalition, which supports efforts to accelerate HIV prevention and reduce the level of new infections in countries most affected by the epidemic as set out in the HIV Prevention 2020 Road Map. The Roadmap charts a course for countries to achieve the global HIV primary prevention goals. Its headline target is to reduce new HIV infections by 75% from 2010 figures, to less than 500,000 per year by 2020. However, UNAIDS’ first progress report monitoring the implementation of the Road Map, released in May, shows that progress has been slow.

Communities speak out on limited progress 

A series of shadow reports launched by the Alliance at AIDS 2018 provides an assessment of how each country is progressing against the 10-point action plan outlined in the Roadmap. Focusing on six countries – India, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, Ukraine and Zimbabwe – the reports paint a picture of inconsistent engagement with civil society groups and little movement on the implementation of new accountability mechanisms that include community-based monitoring tools and initiatives. There is also an urgent need to address structural barriers, such as laws that criminalise drug use, sex work and same-sex behaviour that prevent people from accessing the services they want and need. For young people, laws requiring parental consent for HIV testing or access to SRHR services further impacts their right to health. Weak engagement with community groups and slow progress to reform outdated laws risk undermining efforts towards the HIV Prevention 2020 Roadmap.

The Alliance’s shadow reports are a critical tool for communities to advocate to governments and donors to ensure HIV prevention receives adequate funding and that progress is not derailed by limited engagement with the communities most affected by the epidemic.

Addressing the funding gap

In a satellite session convened by the Alliance during the conference, representatives from governments, civil society and global health organisations, reflected on the current status of HIV prevention efforts and discussed the reports’ findings. Speaking out on the decisions made by governments and donors to prioritise finance for HIV treatment over prevention, Grace Kumwenda from PAKACHERE, a community based organisation in Malawi, said, “It’s not an either/or choice. Treatment should be funded, but prevention should also be funded equally. At the rate we are going now, we will not meet the 2020 prevention targets.”

Recommendations

The shadow reports highlight clear gaps in community involvement in the HIV response in the six countries featured. Patchy progress and weak engagement with community groups risks undermining efforts towards the HIV Prevention 2020 Roadmap

We must continue to assess progress in this area because if we are to meet global targets on prevention, governments must involve communities to develop effective responses for those most at risk of acquiring HIV and provide adequate resources to ensure their participation. 

About the Alliance

The International HIV/AIDS Alliance was founded in 1993 to support community groups in countries that were most affected by the global AIDS crisis. We offered a vision and a way of working that would put communities at the centre of the response in order to provide effective local solutions. We now work with communities in over 40 countries to take local, national and global action on HIV, health and human rights.

Learn more about the International HIV/AIDS Alliance.

Global Health Roundup~07/16/2018

PMNCH Searching for Civil Society or Youth Representatives for the GFF Investors Group
The Global Financing Facility (GFF) Investors Group regularly brings together key investors in reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health (RMNCAH) and nutrition to strengthen partnerships and optimize country-level health financing. Investors include governments, civil society organizations, the private sector, UN agencies, Gavi, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. A special selection committee, which includes the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH), is calling for applications for civil society and youth representatives for the GFF Investors Group. These representatives will play a critical role in ensuring that civil society and youth voices are captured in the content of the work produced by the GFF. Applications are due July 22.

Voice Your View to WHO on Primary Health Care
WHO wants to hear your views on primary health care (PHC) and how it can be addressed to meet everyone’s needs, ahead of the Global Conference on Primary Health Care (October 25 – 26). PHC, usually the first level of contact people have with the healthcare system, aims to provide comprehensive, accessible, community-based care that is tailored to fit the needs of the individual seeking care. WHO’s Draft Declaration, an update on the 40-year-old Alma Ata Declaration underlines the importance of PHC to achieve Universal Health Coverage. It has now reopened for public consultation to ensure inclusion of views from a broad range of stakeholders. The comment period will be open until July 22.

GHTC Urges Increased Investment in Research and Development for the GHSA
The Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) is calling upon the global health community to join them in urging world leaders to include commitments to Research and Development (R&D) in the new 2019-2024 Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) framework, which is now in development. The former framework did not include an action package dedicated to improving R&D capacities in GHSA member countries. R&D is needed, now more than ever, to ensure the availability of vaccines, treatments, and other tools needed to stop an outbreak from becoming a deadly epidemic. The petition would pave the way for civil society to press world leaders for change as they convene in Bali for the 5th GHSA Ministerial Meeting in November 2018.

NEWS BITES

July 5: joint report by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), WHO and the World Bank highlight the cost of low-quality health care on illnesses and health across all income levels.

July 6: Although the last confirmed Ebola patient was discharged on June 12, WHO continues to closely monitor the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

July 9: The Bipartisan Policy Centre released a report highlighting the achievements of PEPFAR over the last 15 years in the arena of Strategic Health Diplomacy. You can follow more updates on Twitter at #PEPFAR15.

July 9: The Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) shared potential assets developed by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to strengthen global disease outbreak prevention and control.

NCD Advocacy Resources for Youth by Youth

As a follow-up to the Call to Action: Youth, NCDs, & 2018, NCD Child is sharing 2 new resources developed by youth advocates to help promote the inclusion of young people in policy-making and policy targets.  Over the past 6 months, young advocates have continued to be vocal about the need for policy makers, civil society, and others to walk the talk with regards to youth inclusion in the global NCD agenda. To maintain momentum and hold our governments accountable, youth champions encourage their colleagues, networks, and peers to reach out to their Ministers over the next several months in the lead-up to the 3rd UN High-Level Meeting on NCDs.

1) Template letters to government:  This letter was developed to be sent from young people to government officials and making our key asks – proposing intergenerational collaboration for NCD policies as well as include a young person in their official country delegation to the UN High Level Meeting on NCDs. We suggest that the letter be sent much in advance of the High-Level Meeting, since being included in the preparatory work for the meeting could offer great opportunities to learn and influence.

2) Talking points on NCDs & young people:  The talking points highlight key messages related to the prevention, treatment, and management of NCDs in young people.  The information can be used in a variety of platforms, including but not limited to, social media, advocacy at high-level meetings, outreach to government, and collaborations with important civil society partners.  We hope you incorporate the messages into your advocacy efforts in the lead-up to the UN High Level Meeting on NCDs and beyond.  

Stay in the know on future resources made by youth advocates for youth advocates by joining the NCD Child Youth Voices Connect group on Facebook

Advancing Synergy: Laying the Foundation for Impactful Partnerships

This blog post was written by Dr Arti Patel Varanasi, Founder, President and CEO, and Dr Mychelle Farmer, Chief Medical Officer at Advancing Synergy. Advancing Synergy’s mission is to develop innovations that empower individuals and impact communities to achieve better health. They are a 2018 Global Health Council Member and actively engaged with the Noncommunicable Diseases (NCD) Roundtable.

At Advancing Synergy, we believe in the ability of diverse individuals and sectors coming together to leverage innovations that empower individuals to effect positive change and impact communities by making them healthier and stronger. Achieving health equity is central to our work and our mission. Our team believes in engaging all stakeholders, especially the end-users and youth leaders to ensure that the resulting technology-enabled solution will be useful to and accepted by the target audience. As a result, our initial efforts on addressing health disparities among cancer patients through technology-based interventions has extended to developing new partnerships to raise awareness about the needs of people worldwide for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).

Our partnerships have stemmed from our initial work in developing and evaluating our innovative digital health solution, POiNT℠ (point of need together℠) among low-income breast cancer patients. Through this project, we identified the importance of task-shifting and task-sharing as vehicles to promote adherence to NCDs care and treatment. Advancing Synergy set out to explore task-sharing through the use of digital health platforms and presented the work at the 2018 USAID Mini University and the 2018 Global Health and Innovation Conference. Additionally, recognizing the importance of developing solutions for diverse resources settings, Dr. Arti Varanasi, President & CEO of Advancing Synergy, was an invited speaker at the Chatham House research event on Harnessing New Technologies for Global Health Security in March 2018.

The NCD Child Workshop Group at the Global Health Practitioner Conference 2018. Image Courtesy: CORE Group DC

Advancing Synergy is now exploring new partnerships with civil society, academia, and the private and public sectors. Arti believes such partnerships allow each group to focus on their strengths and result in collective action to promote NCDs prevention and control. She is working closely with the CORE Group and was recently appointed the Chair of CORE Group’s NCDs Interest Group. Through careful consultation with members of CORE Group’s NCDs Interest Group, Advancing Synergy collaborated with NCD Child and CORE Group to conduct a half-day workshop on NCDs. This workshop, held in Bethesda, Maryland in June 2018, was attended by over 50 participants from diverse segments of civil society. Following the workshop, Advancing Synergy was also part of a Youth Delegation, organized under the leadership of Dr. Mychelle Farmer, Chief Medical Officer at Advancing Synergy and Chair of NCD Child, to visit UN Mission to share advocacy messaging around NCDs. Advancing Synergy will continue to collaborate with NCD Child and CORE Group, and the dialogue will continue through the NCDs Interest Group to find answers to difficult health challenges.

Focusing on the diverse health needs of poor and marginalized people, Advancing Synergy is laying a foundation for practical, low-cost solutions to practical problems related to NCDs that will help to answers questions, like: How can we learn from the experiences of others as we integrate NCDs into existing community health platforms? How can we transfer digital technology to low resource settings, so we can address complex health issues like NCDs? Central to finding answers to these questions is harnessing the talent, energy, and insight of young persons and empowering them as advocates for themselves and their communities. Dr. Mychelle Farmer brings her expertise in global health at the intersection of child and adolescent health, youth leadership, and noncommunicable diseases to lead Advancing Synergy’s youth advocacy initiatives.

Dr. Arti Varanasi presenting the GHC-NCD Roundtable joint statement at the Interactive Civil Society Hearing on NCDs. Image: American Academy of Pediatrics.

Advancing Synergy will take the message of task shifting and youth advocacy to a diverse population in need. As a representative of the Global Health Council and the NCD Roundtable at the United Nations Interactive Hearing on NCDs, Dr. Varanasi addressed the health needs of youth and the elderly. Digital solutions can link families including young and older family members struggling with NCDs, so they can identify local, age-appropriate solutions to the prevention and control of NCDs.

Advancing Synergy’s desire to extend cost-effective solutions to all in need will be supported by new partnerships. Informed by Advancing Synergy’s role as a member of NCD Roundtable’s steering committee, Dr. Varanasi’s leadership within CORE Group’s NCDs Interest Group, and through active participation in global health forums like the NCD Alliance and the Global NCD Forum, Advancing Synergy will spread the message of health for all, using practical, novel solutions to the world’s biggest health threat.