Why is HIV/AIDS an important focus for HAI?
According to the World Health Organization, about 35 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2013, the majority of whom were in sub-Saharan Africa. New scientific advances hint that we might be close to a cure or a vaccine for HIV, but in the immediate future, HIV care and treatment services need to be delivered at the health site level to the people that need it most.
What are we doing to address HIV/AIDS?
The WHO recently released guidelines for earlier initiation of HIV treatment which they believe can prevent up to 3.5 million new infections by 2025 – and it’s up to organizations like HAI to now work in solidarity with Ministries of Health to implement these new guidelines. HAI’s program in Côte d’Ivoire works with Ministry of Health counterparts to ensure that HIV services are integrated into public health clinics. Our technical advisors and administrative staff work side-by-side with health providers, community outreach partners, and Ministry of Health district and regional staff to ensure people have access to these essential services.
Understanding how health systems work – and finding ways to improve services – is key to expanding services in resource-constrained environments. Important research projects, such as HAI-Mozambique’s Option B+ project and HAI-Mozambique and HAI-Côte d’Ivoire’s joint research study have looked at ways in which we can help streamline essential services at health clinics, and we are working in solidarity with governments to ensure that all people have access to quality health care services no matter where they live in the world.
HAI is also pushing hard to help governments, NGOs, and donors advocate for better conditions for which governments can hire and retain qualified health workers to deliver these critical drugs and services to people who need them the most. The end of AIDS will not be possible without a strong public sector that is able to reach vulnerable populations, and scaling up HIV treatment is impossible without a strong workforce to fortify the public sector. That’s why HAI has joined with a number of organizations to create and disseminate the NGO Code of Conduct for Health Systems Strengthening, which lays out best practices for NGOs, donors, and governments. It’s a powerful tool that holds NGOs accountable to the host countries in which they work – and we are always looking for allies to sign onto the code and commit to working in solidarity with Ministries of Health throughout the world.
Is the end of AIDS possible in our lifetimes? There are many reasons to be optimistic about the future, and HAI will continue to work to support public sector health systems and towards a future where health is accessible for all.