The NGO Delegation welcomes the initiative as well as the report presented. At the same time, the Delegation expresses the need to accelerate the implementation of the Global Plan in order to be able to start the activities at country-level early in 2012 to decrease vertical transmission as soon as possible to reach the goal to eliminate by 2015.
We thank Michele Sidibé and Ambassador Eric Goosby for their bold commitment to the promotion of leadership of women living with HIV with the addition of a mother living with HIV as the 4th community member to the Global Steering Group who can help guide the process from both advocacy and experiential perspectives. We continue to recognize the need for this initiative to be inclusive of and powered by the targeted communities. We are pleased that the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS and AIDS Legal Network led a virtual consultation allowing women to identify gender barriers to vertical transmission services and provide recommendations on how to take the Global Plan forward in ways that will be community friendly and effective. As well, we are pleased with the “World AIDS Day Report: Rapid Assessment of Gender Barriers to Preventing Mother-to-child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT)” presented by UNAIDS and the Permanent Mission of Israel. The report is reflective of a five country assessment of unmet needs for women living with HIV which robustly highlights the impact of gender norms and cultural perceptions on the access to maternal care. We hope to go forward with the planning and implementation of the Global Plan; we hope that this report and other such mechanisms which capture and articulate the voices and lived experiences of women living with HIV are prioritized to ensure that the Global Plan addresses the issues and realities of pertinence to women living with HIV.
While we acknowledge the bold commitment to ensure community involvement, we must also note that consultations with women and men living with HIV in Africa facilitated by the International Community of Women with HIV/AIDS (ICW) found that many people remain unaware of the Global Plan or have limited understanding of the implications or goals.
ICW also noted through consultation that while women living with HIV are participating in technical working groups on PMTC in conjunction with the Global Plan, their presence and contributions feel tokenistic as there is an absence of needed capacity-building and technical assistance to encourage concrete and informed contributions. Additionally, through the ICW consultations, it was highlighted that the messaging around the Global Plan is limited to reduction of vertical transmission and remise of messages around sexual and reproductive health and rights for women living with HIV which is a key component.
The NGO Delegation encourages UNAIDS to incorporate financial resources in the Global Plan and to support the capacity building of communities, particularly communities of people living with HIV, to enable full and effective participation in all elements of planning and implementation of the Global Plan.
The NGO Delegation also suggests that in the Global Plan and its implementation, the term PMTCT be replaced by “vertical transmission”, PMTCT has punitive connotations and unfairly messages sole responsibility of transmission to mothers living with HIV.
Finally, as most of the funds for country actions were projected to be reliant on funding from Round 11 of the Global Fund, and Round 11 has now been suspended until 2014, it is very important there is a transparent proposal of how these funds will be replaced in order to ensure the Plan can be develop and fully implemented by 2015. We recommend that these financial decisions as well as projections for costing be inclusive of the Global Plan community leadership.