the need for a more united front to combat the epidemic, African Heads
of State in 1999 asked the Organization of African Unity Secretary-General
to work with UNAIDS in implementing a special partnership against HIV/AIDS.
In December 1999, the UN Secretary-General boosted the initiative by
adding his support to what would become the International Partnership
against AIDS in Africa.
• The Partnership
is based on the premise that, in isolation, none of its constituencies—neither
governments nor civil society and the various national and international
organizations working against AIDS—can turn the epidemic around. A coalition
or partnership approach can magnify the contribution of all partners,
while giving a clear leadership role to African governments.
• The Partnership’s
mission is ambitious and bold. Over the next decade, it aims to contribute
to global efforts to curtail the spread of HIV in Africa, sharply reduce
its impact and halt the setbacks in human, social and economic development.
The venture builds on the strengths of each partner in the following
• By providing
national leadership, African governments are spearheading broad-based
• United Nations
organizations are coordinating the global response and providing programme
and financial support to country-level efforts;
• donor governments
are backing action at all levels, mainly by supporting the development
of the Partnership and providing financial assistance;
• the private
sector is contributing expertise and resources;
• the community
sector is working to boost the roles of local civil society groupings
in the Partnership and strengthen regional and country networks.
A significant start
has made significant headway. It is involved in mobilizing political
leadership, developing and implementing national strategic plans, and
empowering communities. It also marshals resources, helps set up funding
and debt relief programmes, and ensures access to care and partnership
• Political and
other leaders are allocating more funds, setting up national AIDS councils,
drafting new national AIDS strategies or honing existing ones, and heeding
the importance of community involvement and district-level action.
technical and management support is being extended to strengthen national
AIDS councils in countries such as Botswana, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nigeria,
Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
• New plans are
being introduced to overcome the AIDS crisis. When the Partnership was
formed in late 1999, 14 national strategic plans had been completed.
Fifteen months later, nearly 30 had been completed and another 14 were
• More human
and financial resources are being deployed. Partners are working together
to stage successful resource mobilization round-tables. The Malawi process,
for example, saw donors pledge 90% of the US$121 million that had been
requested to help fund that country’s HIV/AIDS programme. Other countries
are now applying those lessons.
• Several governments
have announced significant increases in the funds they allocate to HIV/AIDS
programmes. Some are using debt relief savings to pay for AIDS-related
activities and, as a result, eight low-income countries have added a
total of US$30 million to their AIDS programmes. The Nigerian Government,
for example, will be putting US$40 million toward its HIV/AIDS Emergency
• UN agencies
are providing more resources to the Partnership’s activities. In addition
to the Cosponsors of UNAIDS (UNICEF, UNDP, UNFPA, UNDCP, UNESCO, WHO
and the World Bank), other agencies such as FAO, ILO, UNHCR and WFP
are strengthening their contributions.
• The Partnership’s
scope is continent-wide, but its most important role is at country level,
where it supports national plans to fight AIDS and boost existing initiatives.
With the various participants sharing their experiences and success
stories, the Partnership can help transform isolated actions into coherent
plans of action.
work is occurring at local levels—the decisive sphere of struggle against
the epidemic. Through district response initiatives, the Partnership
is helping bolster communities’ struggles against the epidemic. Key
actors are being encouraged to form local partnerships with service
providers and facilitators. Countries are receiving technical and financial
support to extend their district responses to the national level.
• The private
sector is strengthening its role in the Partnership. Several foundations
have made substantial contributions to the HIV/AIDS programmes. And
more private firms than ever are responding by establishing workplace
programmes that target their employees and help their families and communities.
By laying the groundwork
for broader and better-coordinated actions against the epidemic, the Partnership
has become central to the global effort to turn the tide against AIDS
in Africa. But major challenges lie ahead.
• Political commitment
must be extended further. More political, religious, business and traditional
leaders must be encouraged to take more decisive and daring action.
• Many of the
countries worst afflicted by the epidemic lack the infrastructure and
the financial and human means to take swift, extensive action against
AIDS. Collaboration between government leaders and captains of industry
could unlock more human and financial resources at country level. But
greater international support (including debt relief) is also required.
• Smoother administrative
systems are needed to ensure that funds, skills and other resources
reach communities. Meanwhile, setting up strong coordinating bodies,
such as national AIDS councils, is a priority in countries that still
and globally, huge efforts are needed to provide adequate access to
care for Africans living with HIV/AIDS. This requires more than the
provision of antiretroviral drugs. Health systems must be strengthened,
health workers and caregivers trained, and voluntary counselling and
testing services improved.
programmes must be stepped up to ensure that they reach young people
and women, in particular, and to avoid a new generation becoming infected.
• The root causes
of the epidemic—social, economic and cultural inequalities and injustices—must
be tackled with more resolve.
The impetus to roll
back the epidemic has been created and the Partnership is determined to
sustain the momentum.
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