STOP AIDS NOW! at the European Development Days

October 21, 2012

Stop AIDS Alliance, the Brussels office of STOP AIDS NOW!, together with UNAIDS, Action for Global Health and other health civil society organisations was chosen to organise one of the 15 high level panels at the European Development Days. The topic for the two-day conference taking place in Brussels from 16-17 October was ‘Inclusive and Sustainable Growth for Human Development’.


The panel Building a social contract for health focused on the importance of realising the right to health to increase social and economic growth. Global health experts discussed the European Union’s role in supporting low- and middle-income countries to reach universal health coverage (UHC).

Despite all the talk about increasing finance for health, the global financial crisis has resulted in a reduction in aid commitments and domestic spending on health. Only a few African countries have matched their promises made in the Abuja Accord in 2006 of attributing 15 % of national budgets to health. Figures also show that despite some successes within the framework of the Millennium Development Goals, the lowest fifth of the population has not benefitted as much as those on middle incomes.

There was general agreement that access to facilities that ensure good health is a right for all people in society, and we must ensure that it reaches down to the lowest levels of society: the very poor, and to those who are marginalised.

Keeping in mind the drop in aid, panellists discussed how the EU, working together with its development partners, could ensure inclusive and equitable growth in low- and middle-income. “We need to take into account the country needs and the capacity of the country to deliver services but also the commitment of each country to implement the proposed actions,” said Jan Paehler , Policy Officer at EuropeAid, European Commission. “Our support to countries need to be tailored to the needs of each country.” 

David Evans - Director, Department of Health Systems Financing, World Health Organisation added that there is a need to make sure that money is better targeted.  “Every country could do more to reduce financial barriers to health. Every country could do more to use money more efficiently and equitably. We think universal health coverage can be reached. Every country can do something to move towards universal health coverage.”

UNAIDS Representative to the ‘New Roadmap on Shared Responsibility and Global Solidarity AIDS, TB and malaria in Africa’ endorsed by the Heads of States at the African Union Summit represents a milestone, demonstrating their commitment to source African solutions for the response to HIV, TB and Malaria. But Africa still needs international assistance, she added.

Participants also explored the role of civil society organizations (CSOs) in ensuring the right to health for all. It was seen critical for these organizations to evolve from its traditional role of holding governments accountable into organizations capable of delivering universal health coverage and social protection. For that, partners such as the EU should “invest more in community capacity development to deliver services to their communities, specially the key populations that are hardest to reach by traditional health systems,” said Stefan Seebacher, Head of the Health Department, International Federation of the Red Cross.    


Indu Capoor, Director, Centre for Health Education, Training and Nutrition Awareness
Jean-Marc Chataigner, Deputy Director General, Global Affairs, Development and Partnerships, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs
David Evans, Director, Department of Health Systems Financing, World Health Organisation
Rosemary Museminali, Representative to the African Union, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
Dr Jan Paehler, Policy Officer, Health Sector, Directorate General for Development and Cooperation - EuropeAid, European Commission
Stefan Seebacher, Director, Health Department, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies 


The panel was jointly organised by the Stop Aids Alliance, Action for Global Health, UNAIDS, IPPF, Countdown 2015 Europe, Marie Stopes International, Oxfam International, and the Red Cross.