40 years of HIV pandemic: key learnings for the future of global health

AHF Europe’s Zoya Shabarova reflects on the lessons learned fighting the AIDS/HIV pandemic and how these can be applied to a future international pandemic agreement
Source: Unsplash | Provided by AHF Europe

By Zoya Shabarova

Zoya Shabarova is the Europe Bureau Chief of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation

17 Dec 2021

Last 1st of December, World AIDS Day marked a rememberable 40-year milestone of fighting the AIDS/HIV pandemic on social and healthcare grounds. These years have seen significant changes in the way we approach patients, in their access to treatment and in the quality of their care.

Several initiatives at international level, such as UNAIDS, Global Fund, UNITAID and MPP (Medicines Patent Pool) were activated to support this fight. After some diverging initial reactions, the representatives from various sectors unified to provide quality, inclusive and humane care to AIDS/HIV affected people and their families.

Even if there are still many things to do to eliminate AIDS by 2030, these 40 years of learning should help further co-creation of global health policy. The COVID-19 pandemic showed that the world still needs to integrate the concepts of solidarity, accountability and inclusion into global health.

AHF Europe welcomes the outcomes of World Health Assembly that closed on 1st of December with an historical decision to establish an intergovernmental negotiating body to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. The suggestion to hold public hearings and to conduct consultations with various representatives will provide space for rich discussions and input from relevant actors.

“The COVID-19 pandemic showed that the world still needs to integrate the concepts of solidarity, accountability and inclusion into global health”

While the long-term perspective is crucial, the world is still fighting the current pandemic and facing inequality of access that should be immediately addressed. Lengthy negotiations on a future pandemic agreement may trigger political momentum when decision makers are more flexible due to the urgency of the crisis.

While some initial content proposals will be presented to the World Health Assembly in August 2022, the negotiations should start immediately and avoid dragging into 2024, when the pandemic may hopefully be finished or fully under control.

AHF Europe strongly supports the idea of a binding agreement, especially with regard to accessing medical countermeasures in times of crisis, facilitating technology and know-how transfer and sharing intellectual property rights with other innovative players. These binding commitments will not only lead to more solidarity but will also have an important impact on the quality of care and health system resilience all around the World.

During the speech announcing the priorities of the French Presidency of the EU, held on 9 December 2021, President Emmanuel Macron raised the issue of an EU-Africa Summit, focusing on health and the environment. President Macron promised to bring health technologies to the African region as soon as possible and seek inclusive partnerships.

“While some initial content proposals will be presented to the World Health Assembly in August 2022, the negotiations should start immediately and avoid dragging into 2024, when the pandemic may hopefully be finished or fully under control”

We truly believe that this Summit, taking place in February 2022, will also be an occasion to reiterate the urgency to agree on new international binding instrument for pandemics, and to reflect together with regional partners on how to prepare the world for the next pandemic and how to efficiently respond to the current one.

In the midst of this changing policy landscape, AHF Europe and the European Health Forum Gastein will organise a high-level debate on the future of global health governance. The event will provide a platform for governmental and non-governmental decision makers to examine key components of a future pandemic agreement, the milestones during 2022 and the challenges ahead.

AHF Europe expects a constructive discussion that could feed into the key initiatives of 2022, such as meetings of the intergovernmental negotiating body of a future agreement and diplomatic discussions hosted by the French Presidency of the EU.

Registrations and more information on the event are available here: https://ehfg.idloom.events/transforming-global-health-governance.


This article reflects the views of the author and not the views of The Parliament Magazine or of the Dods Group

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