By Bryan Teixeira, Europe NGO Delegate
The most recent face-to-face meeting on the Inter-Agency Task Team (IATT) on addressing HIV in Humanitarian Emergencies began with the acknowledgement of a major challenge. Both the global development and HIV agendas are undergoing speedy changes at the very same time. As work progresses on defining a post-2015 agenda, the IATT faced its own challenge: how to effectively ensure that preparedness and skill relative to HIV in Humanitarian Emergencies are not overlooked.
The number of fragile states and conflicts are increasing and a gap exists in the preparedness and recovery phases of the emergency response. It will be crucial to apply lessons like those learned from the response to emergencies in the Central African Republic, Kenya and South Sudan. There is also need for a range of new partners with new skills and new networks.
Participants in this IATT meeting included representatives from the Global Fund (GF), International AIDS Alliance, Médecins San Frontières (MSF), the Red Cross, Save the Children UK, UNAIDS PCB NGO Delegation, UNAIDS, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNHCR, WHO, World Food Programme, and World Vision International.
The meeting received several updates including one on the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR). The GF and MSF are the only providers of ARVs with GF reporting 16,000 clients on ARV plus more than another 2,000 by MSF. Continuing support in CAR includes15M euros approved by GF Board, and current stock of ARVs until June/July 2014.
The situation in South Sudan is different. The country is under a transition funding mechanism for HIV covering treatment and continuity of services including the expansion to PMTCT. Prior to the crisis, all ART sites in 7 states (a total of 24 sites) had supplies for up to 2 months. With the emergency, the airport closed and ARVs were stuck in Juba.
The current story of the Democratic Republic of Congo highlighted the role of food provision in adherence and nutritional improvement in conflict. This reinforced the importance of linking malnutrition support with a package of interventions for HIV using nutrition as the entry point.
The main aim of the meeting was to agree a joint workplan for 2014. Several activities were agreed, e.g., setting up a group to work with the GF, ensuring that HIV in emergency situations is included within the final Lancet Commission report, proposing a thematic session on HIV in humanitarian emergencies at the UNAIDS PCB in 2016, ensuring a profile at the Melbourne International AIDS Conference, and continuing to work at the relationship between HIV and food insecurity.