UNDP Chief: AIDS, Health and Development: Who owns the AIDS response?

Jun 8, 2011

Remarks by Helen Clark
Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme

On the Occasion of the High Level Meeting on AIDS
Special side event on: ‘AIDS, Health and Development: Who owns the AIDS response?’

Wednesday, 8 June 2011, New York

While the HIV/AIDS epidemic is far from over, we all recognize the enormous achievements over the past decade in boosting prevention and treatment around the globe.

As we now look to the future, it is essential that we keep three goals in mind :

First, we must continue and consolidate those efforts which have contributed to the important successes of the past decade. 

  • In 2010, UNDP analyzed progress towards achieving the MDGs in countries around the world.   One of our key findings was that the most successful responses to AIDS have been multi-sectoral ones, addressing human rights and development issues alongside work within the health sector.  We need to link HIV to broader health system strengthening, but we must also ensure that the AIDS response is more than a standalone health-services delivery initiative.

Second, we have to develop and implement new strategies for the vulnerable populations which have so far been excluded from successful programmes.  Many people remain vulnerable to infection, and many people living with HIV lack access to the treatment they need. As is so often the case, those excluded from HIV success stories are often the same people who are marginalized in other ways, including  poor women, and girls, low-income migrants, unemployed young people, ethnic minorities, men who have sex with men, sex workers, drug users, and prisoners.

  • Efforts to reach marginalised people, partner with them, and protect their health are not only important in their own right. They will also contribute to healthier, more equal, more secure, and more prosperous societies overall.

Third, we need to ensure that our investments are ever more cost-effective.

  • We need to focus on interventions with multiple impacts – such as where work with women can simultaneously promote gender equality, lower HIV risk, improve sexual and reproductive health, and increase women’s participation in the work force.
  • We also need to create enabling environments.  UNDP’s Global Commission on HIV and the Law is identifying a broad range of legal measures which can improve responses to AIDS at little or no cost to the public purse.  Often what is most needed is the political courage and leadership to change legal and policy settings.
  • Achieving these three goals requires strong leadership at all levels, including by all those present here this evening.
  • Thirty years into the AIDS epidemic, we need to talk openly and honestly about what the problems are, base our interventions on hard evidence, and focus resources on where they are most needed.
  • Successful responses to AIDS have always been linked to the broader development agenda, and, in turn, our broader development goals have always been advanced through successful responses to AIDS. 
  • We need the scientists, the drugs, and the condoms.  We all hope to see a vaccine to prevent HIV infection.   But we have an impressive array of evidence and tools from outside and within the health sector to apply now: let’s use them all.

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