This statement is made on behalf of a loose coalition of NGO observers including the Stop AIDS Alliance and the Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development and The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance – Addressed By David Ruiz from STOP AIDS Alliance
We applaud the case study presentations made this morning and the demonstrated role and importance of communities in the global HIV response. We recognize the commitment of the UNAIDS family to community systems strengthening and civil society as illustrated by some elements within UBRAF, as mentioned before by the NGO delegation.
Communities, including key affected populations, community organizations and networks, including faith-based groups have, since the beginning of the HIV pandemic, spearheaded the HIV response at the local, national, regional and global level. They have mobilized themselves to promote access to services for all, encompassing women, infants and children, Key Affected Populations, people living in rural and remote communities, and others historically marginalized, ignored, or otherwise excluded from access to essential health services.
Robust community systems are an integral element for success in the response to HIV and the achievement of universal access. Moreover, CSS is critical to achieving health outcomes beyond HIV by strengthening the health system through providing services, tackling structural barriers, promoting access for all, championing human rights, and increasing accountability.
In many countries a large number of people living with HIV remain unaware of their HIV status and those diagnosed with HIV still face stigma, discrimination, illness and death which can be prevented. Even where treatment is available, legal and policy barriers can impede treatment uptake.Community mobilization has provided a critical role in treatment expansion, by creating demand and reaching all. But also through leadership and participation in the development of new, innovative, and increased access to more affordable HIV treatments. They have challenged leadership, held governments accountable and shown the way to mobilise resources where it was thought not to be possible. Community mobilization can also include the provision of essential information and evidence, education, training and accompaniment so that human rights are consistently upheld at the community level so that communities’ capacity and positive potential for reaching the most vulnerable and marginalized is enhanced.
Community mobilization is an essential pillar for strategic investment in healthy societies. As a social enabler, it has to be adequately resourced and funded.
We applaud UNAIDS for organizing the meeting on community system strengthening and treatment expansion which was held last week. We look forward to working closely with UNAIDS in the development and implementation of a clear and strategic road map forward, which we hope will address the following four urgent areas:
- The role that communities play in providing health services must be promoted and protected by all actors including government. The critical linkages between community and formal health and social systems must be recognized, and the services supplied by these communities must be fully resourced.
- CSS is critical to achieving the MDGs and civil society should be viewed as an active partner in the development,implementation and monitoring of the post 2015 agenda. UNAIDS should work closely with and inform OWG members on the critical role of CSS in achieving strong health outcomes and development more broadly.
- We call for enhanced leadership and coordination at all levels in order to mobilize sustained technical and financial support for CSS, including through innovative funding mechanisms.
- Lastly, we urge UNAIDS to encourage the mobilization of national domestic resources for the development and growth of CSS.